Hepatitis C

Hepatitis C services offered in Waldorf, MD

Hepatitis C is one of the most common chronic viral infections, affecting 2.7 - 3.9 million people. Fortunately, the infection often responds to medication, reducing the risk of severe complications. At GI Associates of Maryland in Waldorf, Maryland, the team of experienced gastroenterologists offers high-quality care for hepatitis C. They can make personalized treatment recommendations to eradicate the infection and help you feel better. Call the GI Associates of Maryland office today to schedule treatment for hepatitis C, or book your appointment online. 

Hepatitis C Q & A

What is hepatitis C?

Hepatitis C, caused by the hepatitis C virus (HCV), is a liver infection that spreads through blood and causes liver inflammation. Anyone exposed to contaminated blood can develop hepatitis C, but it’s most common in people who use intravenous drugs or have multiple sexual partners.

What are the symptoms of hepatitis C?

Hepatitis C is a “silent” infection, rarely presenting symptoms early on. As the infection worsens, you might experience:

  • Bleeding easily
  • Bruising easily
  • Fatigue
  • Poor appetite
  • Dark-colored urine
  • Itchy skin
  • Swelling in your legs

Hepatitis C always starts acutely. Acute symptoms develop a few months after exposure. In 20-25% of cases, these infections heal; however, many acute infections eventually become chronic. 

Who is at risk of hepatitis C?

Anyone can develop a hepatitis C infection, but several things increase your risk, including:

  • Injecting or inhaling illicit drugs
  • Exposure to contaminated blood (working in health care)
  • Having HIV
  • Receiving hemodialysis treatment for long periods
  • Spending time in prison

You’re also more likely to catch hepatitis C if you were born between 1945 and 1965. 

How is hepatitis C diagnosed?

Your GI Associates of Maryland provider reviews your medical records, asks about your symptoms, completes a physical exam, and orders blood work to check if you’re infected. 

Your provider orders additional screens to assess the quantity of the virus in your blood (viral load) and identify the virus genotype if your test results confirm that you have hepatitis C.

They might also order magnetic resonance elastography (MRE), an imaging test that uses sound waves to create images of your liver. Your provider checks the images for liver scarring (fibrosis). 

How is hepatitis C treated?

Treatment of hepatitis C depends on the severity of the infection and the symptoms you’re experiencing. In most cases, GI Associates of Maryland prescribes antiviral medications to help clear the virus from your body and boost your immune system.

If you have a severe complication from hepatitis C, like liver failure, you might need a liver transplant. A liver transplant involves replacing your damaged liver with a healthy liver from a deceased donor or a partial liver from a healthy living donor. 

Call the GI Associates of Maryland office today to request a hepatitis C consultation, or book your appointment online.