Hepatitis E Diagnosis
The first step in diagnosing hepatitis E is taking the patient's medical history. The healthcare provider will ask a number of questions about the person's medical history, including his or her current medical conditions, alcohol and/or drug use, sexual history, and family history of medical conditions. The healthcare provider will also perform a physical exam to look for signs and symptoms of hepatitis E and will order certain tests (such as antibody tests). These tests are necessary because the symptoms of hepatitis E are indistinguishable from the symptoms of hepatitis A or hepatitis B.
When diagnosing hepatitis E, your healthcare provider will begin by asking questions about your medical history, including questions about:
- Current medical conditions
- Current medications
- Family history of medical conditions
- Any recent travel
- Alcohol and/or drug use
- Sexual history.
He or she will also perform a physical exam to look for signs and symptoms of hepatitis. Hepatitis E symptoms and signs are indistinguishable from hepatitis A or hepatitis B symptoms. Therefore, tests will be needed in order to make a hepatitis E diagnosis.
If your healthcare provider suspects hepatitis E, he or she will order certain tests that help in diagnosing it. Some of these tests look at certain levels of liver enzymes in the blood (these tests are known as liver enzyme tests). Other tests look for antibodies that the body has made against the hepatitis E virus. Unfortunately, these antibody tests are not widely available.
A number of other diseases have signs and symptoms that are similar to those seen with hepatitis E. Your healthcare provider will consider these conditions and rule them out before diagnosing hepatitis E. Some of these conditions include:
- Other types of viral hepatitis (hepatitis A, hepatitis B, hepatitis C, hepatitis D)
- Reactions to medicines, such as birth control pills or acetaminophen (Tylenol®)
- Autoimmune hepatitis
- Systemic lupus erythematosus.
- Mononucleosis (mono)
- Infections caused by certain viruses, such as herpes simplex virus, cytomegalovirus, or coxsackievirus
- Congestive heart failure
- Wilson's disease
- Liver cancer.