Hepatitis gets a lot of press these days particularly Hepatitis C, a viral form of this serious disease which directly attacks the liver. Millions of Americans suffer from Hepatitis C, some of whom just get an acute flare-up. Other sufferers, however, get repeat episodes for the rest of their lives.
While the virus primarily causes scarring and cirrhosis of the liver, and may progress to complete liver failure and even cancer, Hepatitis C can affect other organs of the body, too, including the stomach.
Symptoms of Hepatitis C
Symptoms of Hepatitis C can be very debilitating, lasting any where from 1 to 3 months. According to the National Institutes of Health, individuals present with:
When doctors see these symptoms, they use a blood test to confirm the diagnosis of Hepatitis C.
Common stomach problems from Hepatitis C
The pain that Hepatitis patients experience is usually in the gastrointestinal tract, specifically the stomach. The discomfort can be very severe and may be accompanied by nausea and vomiting.
In addition to these these problems, Hepatitis C may cause varices or swollen blood vessels in the esophagus and stomach. High blood pressure in the portal veins which connect the stomach, esophagus and other parts of the digestive tract to the liver (typically damaged by cirrhosis) causes these varices. When undiscovered and untreated, varices can suddenly rupture, causing serious bleeding and even death.
Symptoms of bleeding from the blood vessels of the stomach include:
These symptoms are considered a medical emergency and require immediate attention from a physician.
Who gets Hepatitis C and How It Can Be Treated
Anyone who contacts the body fluids of an infected individual can contract Hepatitis C. In addition, certain behaviors or circumstances can increase a person's risk for getting Hepatitis C and its complications. Risk increases if an individual has HIV, receives infected blood during a transfusion, is an illegal drug user, gets a tattoo with a contaminated needle or has sex with an infected person.
Medication and surgery can both be used to successfully treat Hepatitis C.
Colorado Center for Digestive Disorders and Colorado Endoscopy Centers LLC
In Longmont, Colorado, Jonathan E. Jensen MD FACP FACG AGAF diagnoses and treats a wide variety of gastrointestinal disorders. He and his staff strive to maintain the highest level of educational and clinical preparedness to give the best care to patients of all ages and walks of life.
Call Dr. Joanthan Jensen with your questions and concerns about Hepatitis C and the stomach: 303-776-6115.