Hepatitis D occurs in people who are already infected with hepatitis B or acquire it at the same time. It is diagnosed using blood tests. Hepatitis D is a virus that causes an infection only in people who already have hepatitis B or who contract hepatitis D and B at the same time. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), it affects nearly 5% of people worldwide who
Hepatitis D is a virus that causes an infection only in people who already have hepatitis B or who contract hepatitis D and B at the same time.
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), it affects nearly 5% of people worldwide who already have hepatitis B. A healthcare provider who suspects a hepatitis D infection usually will use basic blood tests to confirm a diagnosis.
This article will take a closer look at how healthcare providers typically diagnose hepatitis D.
The symptoms of hepatitis D may not be all that obvious and can mimic the symptoms of other conditions. You may not have any symptoms at all during the acute phase of the disease.
Symptoms may include:
A chronic hepatitis D infection happens when your body is unable to fight the infection. Often, the first sign of chronic hepatitis D involves symptoms of liver damage.
Symptoms may include:
If you’re experiencing a combination of these symptoms, consider making an appointment with your healthcare provider.
If your healthcare provider is already aware that you have an existing hepatitis B infection, they may suspect a new hepatitis D infection if your symptoms suddenly get worse.
Some physical signs to be on the lookout for include:
They may also ask you questions to determine whether you’re at risk for a hepatitis B or D infection, such as:
Healthcare providers use various tests to help diagnose hepatitis D.
The following blood tests can be used to make a hepatitis D diagnosis:
The tests mentioned above are the primary ways healthcare providers confirm a hepatitis D infection. The following tests may help determine whether you’re responding to treatment:
It’s crucial that healthcare providers perform tests to rule out other diagnoses (a process called differential diagnosis), especially since hepatitis D symptoms are the same as other forms of viral hepatitis.
Symptoms of chronic hepatitis D can also mimic:
Hepatitis D is sometimes difficult to diagnose because people may not have symptoms when they first contract the virus. Some people may experience only vague symptoms like malaise and fatigue, making it hard to pinpoint a diagnosis.
Sometimes, physical signs of hepatitis D, like yellowed skin and belly swelling, can be a clue to a diagnosis. But a physical exam isn't enough to confirm a diagnosis since there is an overlap of symptoms between different types of viral hepatitis. To diagnose hepatitis D, healthcare providers use blood tests, including antibody and PCR testing.
If you think you may have hepatitis D, it’s essential to make an appointment with a healthcare provider to confirm a diagnosis. Promptly treating the condition can help prevent complications and limit liver damage in the long run.