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Understanding Hepatitis B and C – What You Need to Know

September 24, 2009 11:59 AM with Dr. Dhiren Shah

Each year hundreds of thousands of people in the U.S. become infected with viral hepatitis, a disease that affects the liver. Dhiren Shah, MD, Gastroenterologist, discusses how you can protect yourself from the disease and how to treat it.

Moderator (Moderator) - 11:54 AM:
Welcome! Today’s chat: Understanding Hepatitis B and C – What You Need to Know, will begin shortly. Please start submitting your questions and Dr. Dhiren Shah will begin answering them as soon as we get started. While you are waiting for the chat to begin, feel free to visit the Gastroenterology pages to obtain more information about Hepatitis B and C.

Dr. Dhiren Shah (NorthShore) - 12:01 PM:
Hello. I am Dr. Shah from Northshore University HealthSystem and will be discussing hepatitis B and C today.

My mother died from Hepatis C. She was treated for Diabetes, high blood pressure and in the final stage of her life she was sent to a specialist who diagnosed the condition as Hepatitis C WITH TWO YEARS TO LIVE.She lived two years to the date and died. Is the disease easier to treat now?
Dr. Dhiren Shah (NorthShore)
The answer to this question is complicated and not easy to answer. The response to treatment(meaning a "cure" from hepatitis c) is better than in the past but there are side effects to the treatment which needs to be monitored very closely.

  Gerrold (Evanston, IL) - 12:08 PM:
What are some travel tips to keep in mind when traveling to a country with high hepatitis levels?
Dr. Dhiren Shah (NorthShore)
in a region where there is a high incidence of hepatitis B, sexual contact is the primary route of infection. if it is hepatitis C, it is mostly related to IV drug use/blood transfusion and less likely sexually transmitted.

  Dominic (Northfield, IL) - 12:11 PM:
My female friend has been diagnosed with hepatitis B. Is there is anything an expecting mother can do to prevent spreading hepatitis to her unborn child?
Dr. Dhiren Shah (NorthShore)
at the time of delivery, she will need to be given a medication called HBIG and the baby will get a vaccination. Some research has shown that giving a medication during the 3rd trimester is beneficial.

  Gerrold (Evanston, IL) - 12:13 PM:
Are there treatments available for all hepatitis viruses?
Dr. Dhiren Shah (NorthShore)
only for hepatitis B and C. There is no need for medical therapy for A, D and E.

  Dominic (Northfield, IL) - 12:14 PM:
How likely is it that acute hepatitis C will become chronic?
Dr. Dhiren Shah (NorthShore)
approximately 80% of acute hepatitis C will become chronic.

  Gerrold (Evanston, IL) - 12:15 PM:
Which hepatitis virus is the most common?
Dr. Dhiren Shah (NorthShore)
in the entire world, hepatitis B is the most common.

  Dominic (Northfield, IL) - 12:16 PM:
I know that at first, hepatitis C symptoms may fool one for thinking they have the stomach flu. What is a good way to distinguish them?
Dr. Dhiren Shah (NorthShore)
you really can't unless you know the triggering event such as recent intravenous drug use or tainted blood products.

  Dominic (Northfield, IL) - 12:20 PM:
Is a liver biopsy necessary for the treatment of hepatitis C?
Dr. Dhiren Shah (NorthShore)
it's not necessary but can be helpful if treatment can be delayed.

  Gerrold (Evanston, IL) - 12:23 PM:
How are both hepatitis B and C diagnosed?
Dr. Dhiren Shah (NorthShore)
by blood test

  Dominic (Northfield, IL) - 12:25 PM:
Should I get any vaccinations for other diseases if I have hepatitis C?
Dr. Dhiren Shah (NorthShore)
hepatitis B vaccination is indicated, if not already done, in people with hepatitis C

Dr. Dhiren Shah (NorthShore) - 12:28 PM:
I would like to thank everyone for this online chat. If you have further questions, you can contact my office at 847-657-1900 to make an appointment.

Moderator (Moderator) - 12:30 PM:
Thank you again for participating in our chat today. For more information please visit our Gastroenterology pages .

Also, a transcript of this chat will be available shortly.

This chat has ended.

Thank you very much for your participation.