Viral Hepatitis

We are in a very exciting era of new drugs and at The Royal Free Hospital we have acquired substantial experience of the most recent developments. 

Hepatitis A

Hepatitis A is a very contagious infection that is spread through contaminated food or water or through sexual contact with someone with the virus. Symptoms initially show up as flu-like, such as fever and joint pain, and may progress to more serious symptoms like jaundice, and abdominal pain.

Hepatitis A can be diagnosed through an antibody test and although it cannot be treated with antibiotics it can be prevented with a vaccine.

Hepatitis A is usually a short term infection and people often recover within six months

 

Hepatitis B

Hepatitis B is the most common liver infection in the world, although it is relatively uncommon in the UK.  It is spread through contaminated blood and body fluids.  Symptoms can include nausea, lack of appetite and flu-like symptoms, although not everyone experiences symptoms.

Diagnosis is conducted through a blood test and usually gets better on its own after 6 months. If the symptoms do not clear up within this time it is known as chronic Hepatitis B and can lead to liver cancer or cirrhosis.

 

Hepatitis C

Hepatitis C is usually caused by coming into contact with contaminated blood or by having sexual contact with an infected person. Additionally, it can be passed from mother to child during childbirth. There are no noticeable symptoms of Hepatitis C until the liver has been significantly damaged.

A diagnosis of this virus can be made through a blood test, liver biopsy or fibroscan. Treatment is done through the use of antiviral medicines which reduce the multiplication of the virus inside the body. This is a long lasting disease that needs careful monitoring to make sure it doesn't lead to cirrhosis or liver cancer.

 

Hepatitis D

This is a very rare virus and is spread through contact with infected blood or sexual contact with an infected person. It only affects those individuals with Hepatitis B.

 

Hepatitis E

Hepatitis E is very rare in the UK and is generally a short-term infection. It is caused by contact with water or items that have been contaminated with the faeces of an individual with Hepatitis E.  Most people infected with this virus will get better without medical intervention.