This convenient package tests for the presence of the three main types of viral hepatitis: A, B and C. This panel is designed to detect the presence of both surface antigens and antibodies associated with each infection. Detecting an acute hepatitis infection, at its early stages, can prevent its progress into a more serious or even life-threatening condition.
What is Acute Hepatitis?
is an infection caused by the hepatitis virus: hepatitis A, hepatitis B or hepatitis C. All three are liver infections with similar symptoms; but, caused by different types of viruses. While hepatitis A is a short-term infection, both hepatitis B and hepatitis C have the capacity to become chronic infections.
Hepatitis A is a highly contagious form of hepatitis; and, is the result of eating or drinking food or water contaminated by the virus. One can also contract hepatitis A when coming in contact with an infected person. This type of hepatitis is usually mild to moderate; and, rarely causes severe symptoms or complications. Hepatitis A, unlike other types of hepatitis, does not cause any chronic illness of the liver.
Hepatitis B is the most common form of acute viral hepatitis. One can contract hepatitis B through being exposed to the blood or other bodily fluids of an infected person. Those who share needles, like drug user, are at high risk of contracting Hepatitis B. Those who are have unprotected sex, or travel to regions of the world where hepatitis B is prevalent, are exposing themselves to this type of infection. Hepatitis B is not spread through eating contaminated food or water. It is also not spread by getting in close contact with somebody who is coughing or sneezing. For both hepatitis A and B, a vaccine is available and can protect against such infections.
Hepatitis C is the trickiest form of hepatitis. It is contracted by being exposed to contaminated blood (sharing razors, tattoo and drug needles), having unprotected sex, and through occupational exposure. Unlike the first two types, hepatitis C can be passed from a mother to her fetus at birth, and is considered to be a kind of chronic condition. Acute hepatitis C infection can take up to 6 months, after exposure, to develop signs and symptoms. There is no vaccine for hepatitis C. Getting cleared from the viral infection once, does not make you immune to it as you can still contract it if you get exposed to the virus again. The CDC explains
that about 85% of those infected with hepatitis C end up developing a chronic illness. In 2016, there was around 2.4 million people in the USA infected with hepatitis C.
According the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
, the ongoing use of opioids has increased the rates of acute hepatitis (B and C, in the USA. Many states are witnessing a peak in their hepatitis rates. Kentucky, Tennessee, and West Virginia, for example, had a 114% increase in Hepatitis B cases from 2009 to 2013. North Carolina, on the other hand, had a 56% increase in the rate of Hepatitis B between 2014 and 2016. Massachusetts, is alarmed by the 78% increase in its hepatitis B rates in 2017.
The acute hepatitis package includes testing for all three types of this infection. It tests for surface antigens and antibodies of the hepatitis A, B and C viruses. It includes the IgM (hepatitis A antibodies); IgM and Surface Antigen, as well as core antibody for hepatitis B; and, the antibody for hepatitis C. Surface antigens are important proteins that can signal some immune responses. These will trigger the formation of antibodies. When a person gets exposed to hepatitis B, for example, surface antigens will be found in the blood for a period of several weeks up to six months. These surface antigens are the earliest signs of a positive acute hepatitis diagnosis. An antibody, Immunoglobulin, is an active protein secreted by our immune system to recognize and get rid of what is harming our body.
Why take the Acute Hepatitis test?
If you think you have symptoms of any type of hepatitis like fever and fatigue, loss of appetite, nausea and vomiting, dark urine, joint pain, jaundice or itching; an acute hepatitis package can help you get an accurate diagnosis. If you have been in contact with someone who is infected, or may be at high risks
, you should get tested. Those who use intravenous drugs, have STD’s (sexually transmitted diseases), have unexplained high levels of liver enzymes, or living with some medical conditions, can benefit from getting screened for acute hepatitis. Others at high risk for an acute hepatitis infection are:
- Men who have sex with men
- Those who were born between 1945 and 1965
- Anyone who has been on dialysis, for a long period of time
- Those who had a blood transfusion before July 1992
- Those who came in close contact with someone who has hepatitis B or C
- Babies that were born of infected mothers
- Men and women who have had organ transplants; and, have been on immunosuppressants
The acute hepatitis package is the most accurate method to detect and identify a hepatitis infection. It can also monitor how effective a hepatitis treatment is; and, determine how contagious a type of hepatitis is. It can also detect a chronic form of hepatitis and diagnose a possible nephrotic syndrome that causes kidney damage.
What your Acute Hepatitis results mean?
If your results were normal; then, it is a sign that you have never been vaccinated against any kind of hepatitis, have never been infected, and do not have an active hepatitis infection. If you tested positive for antibodies, this means that you have abnormal results. This could either indicate that you have been vaccinated for hepatitis, that you have had an infection in the past but are no longer contagious, or that you have a recent infection.
Your results should be interpreted as follows:
- If the hepatitis A antibodies are positive but all other indicators are negative; then, you have acute hepatitis A.
- If the hepatitis B surface antigen and core antibodies are positive and everything else is negative; then, you have acute hepatitis B.
- If the hepatitis C antibodies are positive and everything else is negative; then, you either have an acute or a chronic hepatitis C. Your doctor may order additional tests to have a better diagnosis.
- If only the surface hepatitis B antigen is positive and everything else is negative; then, you may have a chronic hepatitis B infection.
- If only the core hepatitis B antibodies are positive and everything else is negative; then, you may have acute hepatitis B and the quantities of surface antigen are still too low to detect.