What is Hepatitis?

Hepatitis B and C are blood-borne infections caused by viruses. These viruses directly affect the liver, leading to inflammation and scarring later down the line. Hepatitis can cause liver damage and liver failure. This is avoidable if treated early, though. Both hepatitis B and C can be contracted from:

  • Contaminated water
  • Needle-stick injuries
  • Bodily fluids

Both types of hepatitis infection cause:

  • Fever
  • Vomiting
  • Possible jaundice (when your skin and the whites of your eyes turn yellow)
  • Abdominal pain

Hepatitis B is curable. Early hepatitis B detection will prevent long-term liver damage. If you are at risk of either hepatitis B or C, IPSA Medical advises that you book a hepatitis consultation with your doctor.

Your doctor will conduct a risk assessment of your clinical history. A full examination will follow, and then – if necessary – further investigations. If we determine that you have a high hepatitis B/C risk, then sexual health screening (a blood test) and liver-function tests (a check of your liver’s health) will be offered. Your doctor will clearly explain your hepatitis B/C results to you.

Hepatitis B (surface antigen): £95

Hepatitis B (antibodies): £95

Hepatitis C (antibodies): £95

When should I get tested?

75% of cases of Hepatitis C are in the baby boomer generation (those born between 1945 and 1965). It is advisable to be tested for hepatitis if:

  • You have ever injected illegal drugs.
  • You had a blood transfusion or organ transplant prior to 1992.

Symptoms can take decades to appear. Those who are chronically infected will experience symptoms associated with general sickness, such as weakness and loss of appetite. Drinking excessive amounts of alcohol can aggravate symptoms.

What happens in treatment?

Various tests are used to diagnose Hepatitis B. The first marker of Hepatitis B infection is the surface antigen, otherwise referred to as the outer layer of the virus. This can be detected from around three weeks after exposure. If tested positive for the surface antigen, then antibody testing can take place.

Hepatitis C can be detected from ten days after exposure. If the antigen test returns positive, then antibody testing can be used from 28 days. It is recommended that you take another test after 3 months for definitive results.

Sexual intercourse of any capacity should be avoided until the course of vaccinations has been completed.

For those with chronic disease, liver damage can be prevented through antiviral drugs which slow down the reproduction of the virus.

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