Skip to main content

Military Health System

What to Know About Hepatitis - its Treatment, and Prevention

Image of picture of a liver. Hepatitis is characterized by inflammation of the liver. There are several types of the disease that are transmitted through different sources. (Courtesy of CDC)

Recommended Content:

Public Health | Medical and Dental Preventive Care Fitness

A bad liver can be a potentially fatal problem.

The liver's primary function is to filter out toxic substances from your blood and to produce the essential proteins that allow the body to function.

But liver functions can be damaged or impaired - especially by unhealthy habits like excessive alcohol use, drug use or obesity.

In advance of World Hepatitis Day on July 28, we wanted to learn more about liver disease -- the different types, and how to prevent them and protect yourself and your loved ones – so we spoke with Army Lt. Col. (Dr.) Brendan Graham, chief of pathology at Womack Army Medical Center, in Fort Bragg, North Carolina.

Graham explained there are several varieties of the disease which can be caused by different factors, including:

  • Alcoholic Hepatitis (caused by excessive alcohol consumption)
  • Viral Hepatitis (caused by infection from viruses that target the liver)
  • Drug-induced hepatitis (caused by certain medications like acetaminophen or dietary supplements)
  • Steatohepatitis, or fatty-liver disease (caused by being overweight or obese)

All of the hepatitis variants can be very dangerous.

"All viral hepatitis can cause abdominal pain and jaundice - the yellowing of the skin and buildup of bilirubin - in the acute stage," said Graham. "Hepatitis that persists can lead to acute liver failure, which can lead to rapid coma and death as the body loses the capacity to process toxic materials in the blood or produce necessary proteins, or chronic liver failure, where the body gradually loses the ability to process toxins and produce proteins, causing numerous medical complications and leading to eventual death due to liver failure."

Liver failure can be either acute, meaning it is brought on suddenly by a specific event, or it can be chronic, which develops over time.

Graham said that "the types of hepatitis that lead to acute liver failure include drug-induced hepatitis - which can be caused by acetaminophen, also known as Tylenol - and certain types of infectious hepatitis, such as viral hepatitis caused by the hepatitis A virus (HAV)".

Similarly, he said the types of hepatitis that lead to chronic liver failure include alcoholic hepatitis, fatty-liver disease, and certain types of viral hepatitis, such as those caused by the hepatitis B (HBV), and hepatitis C (HCV) viruses.

Knowing the difference is important because it allows individuals to avoid death due to acute liver failure, said Graham. Additionally, most of the types of hepatitis that cause chronic liver failure are due to lifestyle choices, such as excessive alcohol use and obesity, making this type of hepatitis largely avoidable through lifestyle modifications.

"Infectious causes of hepatitis can be transmitted to other individuals by means of blood, sexual contact, and feces," added Graham. "Knowledge of these routes of transmission allow individuals to refrain from activities that could result in transmission or enact lifestyle modifications or public health measures that could reduce the risk or prevent transmission."

Graham added: "The multiple medical complications that come with chronic liver failure secondary to chronic hepatitis require significant medical care, numerous doctor visits, and hospitalizations to treat complications like excessive bleeding and excessive swelling."

It can also affect service members' readiness.

"Service members with chronic liver failure secondary to chronic hepatitis are non-deployable as a result of these complications and the significant medical care they require," he said. "Additionally, service members with viral hepatitis that are not yet in liver failure put their fellow service members at risk of contracting the virus due to exposure to the infected individual's blood in the course of providing medical care to an injured, infected individual or receiving a battlefield blood transfusion from an infected individual."

In the United States, the most common and severe types of viral hepatitis are those caused by HAV, HBV, and HCV.

"Chronic hepatitis leading to liver failure is an almost entirely preventable disease," said Graham. "Maintaining a healthy weight, consuming alcohol in moderation, and avoiding high-risk activities like intravenous drug use and sharing injection needles can prevent the vast majority of chronic hepatitis."

Additionally, he said there are new medical therapies for hepatitis C that can effectively cure the disease. "If an individual is at risk for having contracted hepatitis C, treatment with these drugs early in the course of infection can prevent the chronic liver inflammation that leads to liver failure."

Below is more information on the symptoms and the type of the disease each virus causes:

Symptoms:

  • Jaundice
  • Fever
  • Fatigue
  • Loss of appetite
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Abdominal pain
  • Joint pain
  • Dark urine
  • Clay-colored stool
  • Diarrhea (HAV only)

Hepatitis A:

  • Transmitted through close person-to-person and sexual contact with an infected person as well as by ingesting contaminated food and/or water.
  • Shed through infected feces – people who practice inadequate hygiene can contaminate prepared food with the virus and spread it to others.
  • This is the type of viral hepatitis linked to large outbreaks at a single restaurant or in a home.
  • Has an incubation period of 15-50 days, with an average of 28 days.

Hepatitis B:

  • Primarily transmitted from infected mothers to their babies during childbirth, through sexual contact with an infected individual, and through contact with an infected individual's blood, such as by sharing infected needles, syringes, or other injection-drug equipment.
  • Has an incubation period of 60-150 days, with an average of 90 days.

Hepatitis C:

  • Primarily transmitted through contact with an infected individual's blood, such as by sharing needles, syringes, and other injection-drug equipment. Also transmissible through sexual contact and from mothers to babies during childbirth.
  • Is much less common than the hepatitis B virus.
  • For more than half of people who become infected with the hepatitis C virus, it becomes a long-term, chronic infection, which can result in serious, even life-threatening health problems like cirrhosis and liver cancer.
  • People with chronic hepatitis C can often have no symptoms and don't feel sick.
  • Incubation period of 14-182 days, with an average range of 14-84 days.

For more information, refer to the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention resources and/or talk to your MHS provider.

You also may be interested in...

Elective surgeries resume within the San Antonio Military Health System

Article
8/25/2020
Two surgeons in an operating room

Patients whose procedures were delayed will be contacted by their surgical team or clinic.

Recommended Content:

Public Health | Coronavirus & the MHS Response

Sleep, Healthy Diet, and Good Exercise—Your Invisible Body Armor Against Infection

Article
8/24/2020
Soldier holding a bowl of lettuce and vegetables

[P]reventive maintenance is necessary to ensure continuous readiness and maximum performance.

Recommended Content:

Medical and Dental Preventive Care Fitness

Air Force invention kills toxins on contact

Article
8/20/2020
Image of a man in a white coat doing experiments. Click to open a larger version of the image.

An Air Force invention could be key to reducing the amount of airborne microbes...inside buildings and homes.

Recommended Content:

Public Health | Coronavirus & the MHS Response | Health and Housing | Health and Housing

NMHM looks back at the 1918 ‘Spanish flu’ for one Maryland county

Article
8/19/2020
Black and white image of hospital beds lined up in rows, occupied by sick people

The 1918 flu resembled a more severe cold.

Recommended Content:

Coronavirus & the MHS Response | Public Health | National Museum of Health and Medicine

MSMR Vol. 27 No. 8 - August 2020

Report
8/1/2020

A monthly publication of the Armed Forces Health Surveillance Branch. This issue of the peer-reviewed journal contains the following articles: Commentary: The limited role of vaccines in the prevention of acute gastroenteritis; Diarrhea and associated illness characteristics and risk factors among British active duty service members at Askari Storm training exercise, Nanyuki, Kenya, January–June 2014; Surveillance snapshot: Norovirus outbreaks in military forces, 2015–2019; Update: Incidence of acute gastrointestinal infections and diarrhea, active component, U.S. Armed Forces, 2010–2019.

Recommended Content:

Health Readiness & Combat Support | Public Health

Innovative RX pad creates path for prescribing mobile health technology

Article
7/15/2020

Technology and healthcare are constantly evolving fields.

Recommended Content:

Coronavirus & the MHS Response | Public Health

MSMR Vol. 27 No. 7 - July 2020

Report
7/1/2020

A monthly publication of the Armed Forces Health Surveillance Branch. This issue of the peer-reviewed journal contains the following articles: Hearing conservation measures of effectiveness across the Department of Defense; Alcohol-related emergency department visits, hospitalizations, and co-occurring injuries, active component, U.S. Armed Forces, 2009–2018; Surveillance snapshot: Cervical cancer screening among U.S. military service women in the Millennium Cohort Study, 2003–2015; Epidemiology of functional neurological disorder, active component, U.S. Armed Forces, 2000–2018.

Recommended Content:

Health Readiness & Combat Support | Public Health

Defending the Homeland: A Determined Descendant and a Navy Hospital's Response to COVID-19

Article
6/9/2020
Image of Navy captain, wearing a mask, standing next to a piece of paper on the wall

Althoff and her team at the Quality Management directorate serve as a locus of coordination for clinical support operations.

Recommended Content:

Public Health | Coronavirus & the MHS Response | Coronavirus & the MHS Response

MSMR Vol. 27 No. 6 - June 2020

Report
6/1/2020

A monthly publication of the Armed Forces Health Surveillance Branch. This issue of the peer-reviewed journal contains the following articles: Absolute and relative morbidity burdens attributable to various illnesses and injuries, active component, U.S. Armed Forces, 2019; Hospitalizations, active component, U.S. Armed Forces, 2019; Ambulatory visits, active component, U.S. Armed Forces, 2019; Surveillance snapshot: Illness and injury burdens, reserve component, U.S. Armed Forces, 2019; A monthly publication of the Armed Forces Health Surveillance Branch. This issue of the peer-reviewed journal contains the following articles: Letter to the editor: G6PD deficiency in the Tafenoquine era; Summary of the 2018–2019 influenza season among Department of Defense service members and other beneficiaries; Brief report: Direct care cost of heat illness to the Army, 2016–2018; Animal-related injuries in veterinary services personnel, U.S. Army, 2001–2018.

Recommended Content:

Health Readiness & Combat Support | Public Health

Resuming Elective Surgical, Invasive, and Dental Procedures in Military Medical and Dental Treatment Facilities

Publication
5/19/2020

This memorandum provides guidance on how each Military Medical Treatment Facility (MTF) and Dental Treatment Facility (DTF) may resume elective medical and dental procedures.

Recommended Content:

Public Health | Coronavirus & the MHS Response

MSMR Vol. 27 No. 5 - May 2020

Report
5/1/2020

A monthly publication of the Armed Forces Health Surveillance Branch. This issue of the peer-reviewed journal contains the following articles: Absolute and relative morbidity burdens attributable to various illnesses and injuries, active component, U.S. Armed Forces, 2019; Hospitalizations, active component, U.S. Armed Forces, 2019; Ambulatory visits, active component, U.S. Armed Forces, 2019; Surveillance snapshot: Illness and injury burdens, reserve component, U.S. Armed Forces, 2019; Surveillance snapshot: Illness and injury burdens, recruit trainees, active component, U.S. Armed Forces, 2019; Medical evacuations out of the U.S. Central Command, active and reserve components, U.S. Armed Forces, 2019; Morbidity burdens attributable to various illnesses and injuries, deployed active and reserve component service members, U.S. Armed Forces, 2019; Absolute and relative morbidity burdens attributable to various illnesses and injuries, non-service member beneficiaries of the Military Health System, 2019; Prevalence of selected underlying health conditions among active component Army service members with coronavirus disease 2019, 11 February–6 April 2020; Early use of ICD-10-CM code “U07.1, COVID-19” to identify 2019 novel coronavirus cases in Military Health System administrative data.

Recommended Content:

Health Readiness & Combat Support | Public Health

MSMR Vol. 27 No. 4 - April 2020

Report
4/22/2020

A monthly publication of the Armed Forces Health Surveillance Branch. This issue of the peer-reviewed journal contains the following articles: Commentary: The Warrior Heat- and Exertion-Related Event Collaborative and the Fort Benning Heat Center; Update: Heat illness, active component, U.S. Armed Forces, 2019; Update: Exertional rhabdomyolysis, active component, U.S. Armed Forces, 2015–2019; Update: Exertional hyponatremia, active component, U.S. Armed Forces, 2004–2019

Recommended Content:

Health Readiness & Combat Support | Public Health

DoD Guidance on the Use of Cloth Face Coverings

Publication
4/5/2020

Effective immediately, to the extent practical, all individuals on DoD property, installations, and facilities will wear cloth face coverings when they cannot maintain six feet of social distance in public areas or work centers (this does not include in a Service member's or Service family member's personal residence on a military installation).

Recommended Content:

Coronavirus & the MHS Response | Public Health

MSMR Vol. 27 No. 4 - APR 2020

Report
4/2/2020

As of 1 APR, 186,101 total confirmed COVID-19 cases (3,603 deaths) have been reported in all U.S. states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, Guam, the Northern Mariana Islands, and the U.S. Virgin Islands. Current hot spots include NY, NJ, LA, CA, GA, FL, SC, and Guam. Confirmed COVID-19 cases are rapidly accelerating in the U.S., an increase expected due to amplified testing capacity and ongoing community spread. As of 1 APR, CDC is reporting widespread transmission of COVID-19 in 25 (+12) U.S. states and Guam.

Recommended Content:

Health Readiness & Combat Support | Public Health

Tiered Telehealth Health Care Support for COVID-19

Publication
3/31/2020

This memorandum establishes guidance for the use of Telehealth (TH) Information Technology (IT) tools in support of the clinical care required for patients across the spectrum of COVID-19 illness

Recommended Content:

Information for Patients: About TRICARE | Public Health | Coronavirus & the MHS Response
<< < ... 6 7 8 9 10  ... > >> 
Showing results 136 - 150 Page 10 of 32
Refine your search
Last Updated: January 24, 2023
Follow us on Instagram Follow us on LinkedIn Follow us on Facebook Follow us on Twitter Follow us on YouTube Sign up on GovDelivery