No. Sometimes, if the particular hepatitis virus a person was exposed to is known, tests specific for that virus may be performed. Also, some of these tests are used for other purposes, such as monitoring the progression of disease or determining if treatment is working, and they may be run singly or in different combinations in those cases. For more about other tests used in viral hepatitis infections, see the individual articles on Hepatitis A Testing, Hepatitis B Testing, and Hepatitis C Testing.
2. What other laboratory tests might my doctor perform?
In addition to tests for hepatitis viruses, your doctor may choose to run tests to see how your liver has been affected. These may include liver enzyme tests such as AST, ALT, and ALP. Your healthcare provider may also run a test for bilirubin and a prothrombin time (PT), which can help determine if there is liver damage.
You may be contagious; it depends on which hepatitis virus you were infected with and the stage of your infection. Often, people with viral hepatitis can spread the infection even though they don't have symptoms. With hepatitis A, you may be contagious from the time you are infected and continue to be contagious, but less so, for several weeks after symptoms, such as jaundice, develop. A person with hepatitis B is contagious as long as the virus is present in their blood. Anyone who tests positive for the presence of hepatitis C virus (HCV RNA test) should be considered contagious. The HCV RNA test may be performed as follow up to a positive result for anti-HCV.
Yes. Hepatitis A can be prevented with good hygiene. This includes washing hands well after using the bathroom, after changing diapers, and before eating or starting any food preparation. There is also a vaccine available. It is recommended for all children at age one year and for people who are at an increased risk of exposure to the virus.
Effective hepatitis B vaccines have been available in the U.S. since 1981, and beginning in 1991, healthcare practitioners in the U.S. began vaccinating all newborns. Children and adolescents who were not vaccinated at birth are routinely given the series of shots. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention also recommends that adults in high risk groups get vaccinated. Unless there is something in your medical history to the contrary, it is prudent to get the series of vaccinations.
Currently, there is no vaccine available for hepatitis C, although efforts are ongoing to develop one. Spread of hepatitis C can be prevented by avoiding exposure to blood and body fluids and the sharing of needles or other equipment to inject drugs.
5. The results of my hepatitis panel came back negative. What other conditions can cause similar symptoms?
Hepatitis can be caused by several different factors and conditions such as alcohol, drugs like acetaminophen, or inherited disorders. (For more on these, see the article on Hepatitis.) There are a few other viral infections that may cause similar symptoms, such as cytomegalovirus (CMV) and Epstein-Barr virus (EBV). An autoimmune disease is another possibility your healthcare provider may need to consider if your hepatitis panel is negative. Typically, additional tests will be performed to help determine the cause of your condition.
This article was last reviewed on May 7, 2014. | This article was last modified on May 7, 2014.
The review date indicates when the article was last reviewed from beginning to end to ensure that it reflects the most current science. A review may not require any modifications to the article, so the two dates may not always agree.
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