“Hepatitis” means inflammation of the liver. It is most often caused by a virus. In the U.S. the most common types of viral Hepatitis are Hepatitis A,B,C. Hepatitis C is the most prevalent, and Hepatitis A is the least prevalent in the U.S. Millions of Americans have Hepatitis but many of them are unaware that they have been infected. Fortunately for those affected, there are many new medications available that can treat this condition. These new drugs have fewer side effects, are taken for a shorter time period and are easier to administer than previous Hepatitis medications.
The pharmacists and nurses at Cottrill’s have an extensive understanding of the complexities of managing this condition and secondary health issues that may accompany it. We work closely with you and your physician to ensure that you are on the right medication. Our knowledgeable staff is dedicated to ensuring patients are adherent to their treatment plan which helps us provide improved patient outcomes and lower costs to the health plan.
We will regularly review your medications, help you manage side effects, and ensure that you avoid any potential drug interactions. Hepatitis drugs can be very costly. We will work with your insurance company to secure authorizations needed to ensure that they are covered by your plan. We can also connect you with manufacturers and support organizations that may offer financial assistance.
Symptoms of Hepatitis
Hepatitis A is a liver infection caused by the Hepatitis A virus (HAV). Hepatitis A is highly contagious. It is usually transmitted by the fecal-oral route, either through person-to-person contact or consumption of contaminated food or water. Hepatitis A is a self-limited disease that does not result in chronic infection. More than 80% of adults with Hepatitis A have symptoms but the majority of children do not have symptoms or have an unrecognized infection. Antibodies produced in response to Hepatitis A last for life and protect against reinfection. The best way to prevent Hepatitis A is by getting vaccinated.
Hepatitis B is a liver infection caused by the Hepatitis B virus (HBV). Hepatitis B is transmitted when blood, semen, or another body fluid from a person infected with the Hepatitis B virus enters the body of someone who is not infected. This can happen through sexual contact; sharing needles, syringes, or other drug-injection equipment; or from mother to baby at birth. For some people, hepatitis B is an acute, or short-term, illness but for others, it can become a long-term, chronic infection. Risk for chronic infection is related to age at infection: approximately 90% of infected infants become chronically infected, compared with 2%–6% of adults. Chronic Hepatitis B can lead to serious health issues, like cirrhosis or liver cancer. The best way to prevent Hepatitis B is by getting vaccinated.
Acute Hepatitis B refers to a short-term infection that occurs within the first 6 months after someone is infected with the virus. The infection can range in severity from a mild illness with few or no symptoms to a serious condition requiring hospitalization. Some people, especially adults, are able to clear, or get rid of, the virus without treatment. People who clear the virus become immune and cannot get infected with the Hepatitis B virus again.
Chronic Hepatitis B refers to a lifelong infection with Hepatitis B virus. The likelihood that a person develops a chronic infection depends on the age at which someone becomes infected. Up to 90% of infants infected with the Hepatitis B virus will develop a chronic infection. In contrast, about 5% of adults will develop chronic Hepatitis B. Over time, chronic Hepatitis B can cause serious health problems, including liver damage, cirrhosis, liver cancer, and even death.
How is Hepatitis B Spread?
The Hepatitis B virus is spread when blood, semen or other body fluids from an infected person enters the body of someone who is not infected. The virus can be spread through:
• Sex with an infected person. Among adults Hepatitis B is often spread through sexual contact.
• Injection drug use. Sharing needles, syringes and any other equipment to inject drugs with someone infected with Hepatitis B can spread the virus.
• Outbreaks. While uncommon, poor infection control has resulted in outbreaks of Hepatitis B in healthcare settings.
• Birth. Hepatitis B can be passed from an infected mother to her baby at birth. Worldwide, most people with Hepatitis B were infected with the virus as an infant. Hepatitis B is not spread through breastfeeding, sharing eating utensils, hugging, kissing, holding hands, coughing, or sneezing. Unlike some forms of hepatitis, Hepatitis B is also not spread by contaminated food or water.
What are the symptoms of Hepatitis B?
Many people with Hepatitis B do not have symptoms and do not know they are infected. if symptoms occur they can include: fever feeling tired, not wanting to eat, upset stomach, throwing up, dark urine, grey-colored stool, joint pain and yellow skin and eyes.
When do symptoms occur?
If symptoms occur with an acute infection, they usually appear within 3 months of exposure and can last up to 6 months. If symptoms occur with chronic Hepatitis B, they can take years to develop and can be a sign of advanced liver disease.
Who should get tested for Hepatitis B and why?
CDC develops recommendations for testing based upon a variety of different factors. Here is a list of people who should get tested. The results will help determine the next best steps for vaccination or medical care.
• All pregnant women are routinely tested for Hepatitis B. If a woman has Hepatitis B, timely vaccination can help prevent the spread of the virus to her baby.
• Household and sexual contacts of people with Hepatitis B are at risk for getting Hepatitis B. Those who have never had Hepatitis B can benefit from vaccination.
• People born in certain parts of the world that have increased rates of Hepatitis B. Testing helps identify those who are infected so that they can receive timely medical care.
• People with certain medical conditions should be tested, and get vaccinated if needed. This includes people with HIV infection, people who receive chemotherapy and people on hemodialysis.
• People who inject drugs are at increased risk for Hepatitis B but testing can tell if someone is infected or could benefit from vaccination to prevent getting infected with the virus.
• Men who have sex with men have higher rates of Hepatitis B. Testing can identify unknown infections or let a person know that they can benefit from vaccination.
Hepatitis C is an infection of the liver that results from the Hepatitis C virus. Acute Hepatitis C refers to the first several months after someone is infected. Acute infection can range in severity from a very mild illness with few or no symptoms to a serious condition requiring hospitalization. For reasons that are not known, about 20% of people are able to clear, or get rid of, the virus without treatment in the first 6 months.
Unfortunately, most people who get infected are not able to clear the Hepatitis C virus and develop a chronic, or lifelong, infection. Over time, chronic Hepatitis C can cause serious health problems including liver disease, liver failure, and even liver cancer.
How is Hepatitis C Spread?
Hepatitis C is usually spread when blood from a person infected with the Hepatitis C virus enters the body of someone who is not infected. Today, most people become infected with Hepatitis C by sharing needles, syringes, or any other equipment to inject drugs. Before widespread screening of the blood supply in 1992, Hepatitis C was also spread through blood transfusions and organ transplants. While uncommon, poor infection control has resulted in outbreaks in healthcare settings.
While rare, sexual transmission of Hepatitis C is possible. Having a sexually transmitted disease or HIV, sex with multiple partners, or rough sex appears to increase a person’s risk for Hepatitis C. Hepatitis C can also be spread when getting tattoos and body piercings in unlicensed facilities, informal settings, or with non-sterile instruments. Also, approximately 6% of infants born to infected mothers will get Hepatitis C. Still, some people don’t know how or when they got infected.
What are the symptoms of Hepatitis C?
Many people with Hepatitis C do not have symptoms and do not know they are infected. If symptoms occur, they can include: fever, feeling tired, not wanting to eat, upset stomach, throwing up, dark urine, grey- colored stool, joint pain, and yellow skin and eyes.
When do symptoms occur?
If symptoms occur with acute infection, they can appear anytime from 2 weeks to 6 months after infection. If symptoms occur with chronic Hepatitis C, they can take decades to develop. When symptoms appear with chronic Hepatitis C, they often are a sign of advanced liver disease.
Can Hepatitis C be treated?
YES! However, treatment depends on many different factors, so it is important to see a doctor experienced in treating Hepatitis C. New and improved treatments are available that can cure Hepatitis C for many people.
Who should get tested for Hepatitis C?
Testing for Hepatitis C is recommended for certain groups, including people who:
• Were born from 1945–1965
• Received donated blood or organs before 1992
• Have ever injected drugs, even if it was just once or many years ago
• Have certain medical conditions, such as chronic liver disease and HIV or AIDS
• Have abnormal liver tests or liver disease
• Have been exposed to blood from a person who has Hepatitis C
• Are on hemodialysis
• Are born to a mother with Hepatitis C
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