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Hepatitis – Causes, Symptoms and Treatment

Hepatitis – Causes, Symptoms and Treatment

At GIDOCJHB, we offer clinical services through the availability of a wide range of gastroenterology and hepatology procedures, including inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), endoscopic ultrasound, and gastrointestinal pain prevention and treatment involving the pancreas, liver and biliary disorders, gallbladder, oesophagus, stomach, small intestine, and colon (large intestine).

We are active in research, clinical care, and education in all areas of gastroenterology and hepatology.

We provide an array of diagnostic testing to identify the cause of symptoms and deliver personalized care to our patients, including help with symptom management and nutritional counselling.

In this article, we will discuss about hepatitis, the most common types of hepatitis, it’s symptoms diagnosis and treatments.

 hepatitis treatment johannesburg - Hepatitis - Causes, Symptoms and Treatment

What is Hepatitis?

Hepatitis is a disease that irritates the liver and causes it to swell. The disease can be mild or severe. About half the people with hepatitis have no symptoms and may not know they have it.

The most common types of viral hepatitis include A, B, and C:

Hepatitis A

The virus that causes Hepatitis A, leaves the body in bowel movements. This condition is highly contagious and can be spread from person to person.

Fortunately, this form of hepatitis only causes a mild infection and many people with it don’t even know they are sick.

Hepatitis A is most commonly seen among children and young adults. Hepatitis A is spread through food or water and common food culprits include fruits, vegetables, and shellfish.

Hepatitis B

Hepatitis B is the most common type of liver infection. Unfortunately, not everyone can shed the virus and the infection can become chronic and lead to chronic hepatitis, liver failure, liver cancer, and liver scarring (liver cirrhosis), but can often resolve over time. 

Hepatitis B is passed from one person to another in blood or other body fluids, like sexual intercourse. Persons of any age can be affected.

Hepatitis C

Hepatitis C is a viral infection that causes liver inflammation. It is passed from one person to another through contaminated blood from an infected person.

People at high risk of getting hepatitis C include persons who have had blood transfusions, drug users who use needles, or anyone having sexual contact with those persons.

For some people, hepatitis C is a short-term illness that may last from one to five months, but for more than half of people who become infected with the hepatitis C virus, it becomes a long-term, chronic infection.

For more information regarding the management and prevention of hepatitis, click here


Hepatitis Symptoms

Some people with hepatitis have no symptoms. When symptoms do occur, they can include:

  • Fatigue
  • Flu-like symptoms
  • Dark urine
  • Pale or clay-coloured stool
  • Abdominal pain
  • Loss of appetite
  • Diarrhoea
  • Unexplained weight loss
  • Yellow skin and eyes
  • Aching joints


Hepatitis Risk Factors

A risk factor is something that raises your chances of getting a health problem. Hepatitis spreads when you are exposed to it from contaminated:

  • Stool
  • Blood
  • Semen
  • Vaginal fluid
  • Saliva
  • Food
  • Water
  • Animals
  • products

Some things can increase your chances of developing hepatitis, including certain environmental factors, behaviours, or health issues such as.

  • Unsafe water for drinking or washing
  • A lack of sanitation services like bathrooms or places to wash hands
  • Contact with used needles, syringes, or other objects that might be contaminated with blood infected with hepatitis viruses
  • Engaging in unsafe sexual contact like not using condoms or having multiple sexual partners
  • Not getting vaccinated for hepatitis
  • Being born to a mother who is infected with hepatitis
  • Not practising basic hygiene


hepatitis test johannesburg - Hepatitis - Causes, Symptoms and Treatment

How Is Hepatitis Diagnosed?

Physical Exam

A gastroenterologist performs a physical exam to look for signs and symptoms of viral hepatitis.

He or she presses gently against your abdomen to assess whether the liver is paining or tender and If your skin or eyes are yellow, your gastroenterologist will note this during the exam.

Liver Biopsy

A liver biopsy is an invasive procedure that involves your gastroenterologist taking a sample of tissue from your liver.

It can be done through your skin with a needle and doesn’t require surgery. Liver function tests use blood samples to determine how efficiently your liver works.

Blood Tests

If your liver function tests are abnormal, a gastroenterologist will likely order other blood tests.

Blood tests are used to look for signs that a viral infection is present and to evaluate liver function.

The results of a blood test can confirm the type of viral hepatitis and the severity of the infection.


A gastroenterologist may recommend an ultrasound to see whether the liver is inflamed. This is a painless test often performed in a medical office.


How Hepatitis is Treated

Treatment options for hepatitis are determined by which type of hepatitis you have and whether the infection is acute or chronic.

Hepatitis A

Because hepatitis A is always acute, its treatment is generally limited to addressing symptoms, monitoring liver health, and letting the virus run its short-term course.

In rare cases, hepatitis A leads to severe liver problems that require medication, hospitalization, or transplantation.

If left untreated, liver problems can lead to life-threatening conditions. Therefore, a client who might have been infected or showing symptoms should seek the care of a medical care provider.

Hepatitis B

All cases of hepatitis B begin as an acute infection and most cases resolve without treatment.

However, if the person does not recover completely within a few months, the infection is considered chronic.

Clients diagnosed with chronic hepatitis B should get regular monitoring by a gastroenterologist.

In people with possible exposure to hepatitis B, such as health care workers and sexual partners of infected persons, an effective vaccine exists and is recommended.

Hepatitis C

Antiviral medications are used to treat both acute and chronic forms of hepatitis C.

They may also need further testing to determine the best form of treatment. Currently, there is no vaccination for hepatitis C.



The information on this website is to provide general guidance. In no way does any of the information provided reflect definitive medical advice and self-diagnoses should not be made based on information obtained online. It is important to consult a Gastroenterologist or medical doctor regarding ANY and ALL symptoms or signs including, but not limited to: abdominal pain, haemorrhoids or anal / rectal bleeding as it may a sign of a serious illness or condition. A thorough consultation and examination should ALWAYS be performed for an accurate diagnosis and treatment plan. Be sure to call a physician or call our office today and schedule a consultation.