Understanding hepatitis can be difficult, because there are many possible triggers that can bring on the disease. Hepatitis is a blanket term that refers to inflammation of the liver, and it can be caused by ingesting certain substances, by certain illnesses that attack all body systems or by viruses that solely target the liver. Another challenge for many people with chronic hepatitis is that the symptoms are mild enough to be ignored, even as it continues to damage the liver. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimate that there might be as many as 5.1 million people suffering from chronic hepatitis. If you’ve noticed some concerning changes in your body and are wondering if hepatitis might be the cause, Any Lab Test Now offers simple and straightforward testing for all types of hepatitis. Here are some descriptions to help you determine whether you should get a hepatitis panel.

The liver is responsible for processing chemicals in the bloodstream and metabolizing them so they can be used or eliminated from the body. An example is the liver’s role in processing alcohol and medications; it removes the harmful byproducts of these substances from the body by sending them to the kidneys to be excreted. From the building blocks it gets from your diet, the liver also produces substances the body needs, like important proteins that form the base materials for cells.

When your liver is inflamed, it has trouble performing these functions. When symptoms present themselves, they are often fatigue, dark urine, light-colored stools, fever and jaundice. But inside your body, what is actually happening is much worse. For example, chronic, untreated hepatitis can lead to extensive liver damage, cirrhosis and liver cancer. There are vaccines for two types of hepatitis, A and B, but that leaves you unprotected from types C, D, E and G.

Mononucleosis and many autoimmune diseases can cause symptoms similar to that of the hepatitis viruses. Liver inflammation caused by one of these illnesses can be just as damaging, and needs to be treated. Only a medical exam or laboratory test can help you tell the difference between these two causes of liver damage. If you are or ever have been an intravenous drug user, or if you’ve had unprotected sex with someone who might have hepatitis, you should consider getting tested, especially because the symptoms often go unnoticed or unrecognized. Healthcare workers and people with hemophilia are also at risk of contracting viral hepatitis.

This year, World Hepatitis Day falls on July 28. To help raise awareness, and move us closer to the goal of eliminating viral hepatitis by 2030, do your part and get yourself tested. Visit your local Any Lab Test Now for a quick and easy hepatitis panel!