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Hepatitis C

Suhail Salem, MD -  - Gastroenterology

United Gastroenterologists

Gastroenterology located in Northridge, CA & Encino, CA

Over 3 million Americans have hepatitis C, but most people don’t even realize they’re infected. At his practice in Northridge and Encino, California, Suhail Salem, MD, relies on his advanced training as a gastroenterologist to diagnose and help patients manage numerous disorders, including hepatitis C. If you think you’re at risk of having hepatitis C, schedule an appointment online or by phone today.

Hepatitis C Q & A

What is hepatitis C?

Hepatitis C is a specific infection that creates inflammation in your liver. This viral infection spreads through contaminated blood and can lead to severe liver damage.

Several factors increase your chances of developing hepatitis C, including:

  • Being a health care worker
  • Using injected or inhaled illegal drugs
  • Getting tattoos or piercings in unclean environments

You also have higher risks of hepatitis C if you received an organ transplant or blood transfusion before 1992 or clotting factor concentrates before 1987.

What are the symptoms of hepatitis C?

You can have hepatitis C for several years before symptoms develop. In most cases, the symptoms of hepatitis C develop when you begin experiencing liver damage.

Common signs of hepatitis C include:

  • Bleeding or bruising easily
  • Loss of appetite and weight loss
  • Fatigue
  • Jaundice, or yellowing of your skin and eyes
  • Dark urine
  • Fluid buildup in your abdomen
  • Swelling in your legs
  • Spider veins

It’s also common to experience drowsiness, confusion, and slurred speech when you have hepatitis C.

How is hepatitis C diagnosed?

Dr. Salem can diagnose hepatitis C by performing a blood test. He might also recommend additional screenings that measure the amount of hepatitis C in your blood and identify the specific virus present.

Because hepatitis C can cause liver damage, Dr. Salem may also suggest tests to look for additional damage, including magnetic resonance elastography (MRE), transient elastography, or a liver biopsy to get a small tissue sample.

How is hepatitis C treated?

In most cases, Dr. Salem treats hepatitis C with antiviral medications. It’s also essential that you make certain lifestyle changes, especially those that can or cause liver damage like drinking alcohol or taking certain medications.

To prevent hepatitis C from spreading, it’s important not to share razors or donate blood or other bodily fluids or tissues. You should also cover any wounds and communicate with sexual partners about your infection while also using condoms during intercourse.

If you have serious complications from your disease, Dr. Salem might also suggest a liver transplant. A liver transplant usually won’t cure hepatitis C on its own, so you would still need antiviral medication.

Call Suhail Salem, MD, or schedule an appointment online today for more information.