St. Lucie

Gastrointestinal Diseases, PL

Dr. Khiem Nguyen

Viral Hepatitis

An infection of the liver caused by one of the following viruses:

Hepatitis A (HAV), Hepatitis B (HBV) and Hepatitis C (HCV). These infections can be dormant and have no symptoms for many years. Hepatitis A and B often present as yellowness of the eyes, nausea, vomiting, fever, chills and abdominal pain.

Transmission of Hepatitis

Hepatitis A is transmitted by food, contaminated water and person-to-person. It is not contagious but it is one of the most common diseases of adolescence.

Hepatitis B is transmitted through contact with infected body fluids, blood, urine, saliva, seminal fluid, vaginal secretions and breast milk. It is contagious and can be contracted through sexual contact or simple sharing of razors, toothbrushes, IV needles, tattooing and other sharp instruments. The Hepatitis B virus can live outside the body for up to ten days on a dry surface. Often it can spontaneously resolve without any major damage to the liver. A small group of patients will develop long term illness associated with this virus and may even require liver transplant.

Hepatitis C is an inflammation of the liver which can lead to liver failure. Hepatitis C spreads from person to person through contact with infected blood. For example, this can happen if you've ever shared needles, or if your mother had hepatitis C when she gave birth to you. It’s not common, but you can also get hepatitis C through sexual contact or by sharing toiletry items like razors or toothbrushes that have been in contact with blood.


There is no specific therapy for Hepatitis A except for treatment of the symptoms, i.e., nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea. A small group of Hepatitis B infected patients will develop chronic Hepatitis B that requires treatment. Many medications are available, varying from an injection to a pill.

Most patients with Hepatitis A and B will recover without serious side effect.

Hepatitis C is usually long lasting. Early treatment is recommended.

Consult with your doctor if you suspect you may have contracted hepatitis. Early diagnosis and treatment is important.


Vaccines can be beneficial for preventing Hepatitis A and B. They are recommended to Military personnel, travelers to developing countries, users of illicit drugs, certain institutional workers, health care personnel, day care center workers, and especially those with Hepatitis C infections.

Vaccines are safe and effective for at least 10 years. Currently there is no vaccine available for Hepatitis C.

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This section is as reference guide only. The information contained herein should not be used as or construed to be a diagnosis or used in place of a visit to a physician.

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