When To Speak With A Doctor
People who give birth while they have an active HCV infection should speak with a doctor about HCV as soon as possible. Doctors can test both parents and caregivers, as well as children above a certain age, to confirm whether HCV is present. They can then create a treatment plan.
People should also seek testing for older children and adolescents who engage in behaviors that put them at increased risk for contracting HCV. This includes the use of injection drugs, sharing needles, or getting tattoos and piercings in an unhygienic environment.
Anyone with symptoms that could indicate an acute HCV infection should speak with a doctor right away.
How Do I Tell Someone I Have Hepatitis C
Informing someone that you have hepatitis C can be hard. Most people know little about this disease. You can start with how you found out about your diagnosis. It helps to be prepared with educational materials on HCV, and to be aware of the ways that people can and cannot be infected. For example, it is very rare for HCV to be transmitted during sex. Be sure to tell anyone who may be directly affected, such as:
You may want to encourage others to be tested for HCV if they have similar risk factors.
What Does High/low Viral Load Mean
Viral load is the amount of virus present in the bloodstream. It is expressed as the amount of viral genetic material per milliliter of blood. The amount of virus does not predict how severe the liver disease is or will become. The level of the viral load does not tell us anything about the risk of liver damage or how sick someone is. In hepatitis C, it matters if virus is present or absent. Some treatment regimens can be shortened if the patient has a low viral load to start with, but most often, treatment regimens are the same for people with high hepatitis C viral loads or low viral loads.
The RNA test is essential for making the diagnosis of hepatitis C infection–having a positive RNA test is the definition of having infection. After the diagnosis is made, the RNA level does not need to be checked over and over unless it is checked during the time that the patient is undergoing treatment. During treatment, regular RNA tests are done to follow the dropping virus level until it reaches an undetectable state. But before treatment and after treatment, repeated RNA testing is not necessary.
Also Check: What Can Cause Hepatitis B
What Are The Long
A child with chronic HCV infection should visit the healthcare provider regularly. This way, the healthcare provider can watch for liver damage. Tests will be done to monitor the health of your childs liver. Hepatitis C causes damage over many years. A child with hepatitis C may develop cirrhosis as an adult. This can lead to problems, and possibly the need for a liver transplant. This is why treatment should be discussed with your healthcare provider.
Diagnosis Of Hepatitis C
If your child experiences symptoms of cirrhosis, a pediatric gastroenterologist at Riley at IU Health can perform the following exams and tests to make a diagnosis:
- Physical exam. A pediatric specialist may find an enlarged liver or spleen during an examination of your childs body.
- Blood tests. Many blood tests are used to check for the different forms of hepatitis. Types of blood tests include:
- Liver enzyme. A liver enzyme blood test shows elevated levels of alanine transaminase and aspartate transaminase liver enzymes in patients with liver injury.
- Prothrombin time. A prothrombin time blood test measures the time it takes for plasma to clot and shows if the liver is working well.
- Hepatitis C antibody. A hepatitis C antibody blood test shows hepatitis C infection.
- Hepatitis C polymerase chain reaction. A hepatitis C polymerase chain reaction blood test shows if the hepatitis C virus is present and how much.
Recommended Reading: Good Food For Hepatitis C
How Is Hepatitis C Diagnosed
Your child’s healthcare provider will ask about signs and symptoms and any health problems he or she has. Tell him or her if your child has other infections, such as HIV or hepatitis B.
- Your child will be tested when he or she is at least 18 months if he or she was infected during birth. This is because his or her body will have HCV antibodies from his or her mother.
- Your adolescent may need to be tested if he or she drinks alcohol, uses certain drugs, or is sexually active. The provider may recommend that your adolescent get ongoing hepatitis C tests if his or her risk remains high.
- The following tests help diagnose hepatitis C in children older than 18 months and adolescents:
- Blood tests are used to check for HCV antibodies to fight the infection. The tests can show the type of HCV, and how many viruses are present.
- An ultrasound is used to check for liver problems caused by HCV.
- A liver biopsy is used to test for liver swelling, scarring, and other damage.
How Are The Tests Administered
Both the HCV antibody test and HCV RNA test are evaluated through a blood draw.
Newborn and very young infant blood draws are often done by a quick heel or finger prick, depending on the size and weight of the child. Heel or finger pricks are typically easier to perform on infants. These sticks can be painful, though, so a less painful vein puncture is sometimes preferred. Vein puncture can be done at any age, however this may require multiple attempts and cause discomfort.
Whenever possible, vein puncture on infants should be performed by a pediatric-trained phlebotomist using a butterfly needle. Phlebotomists are trained to draw blood. You may be asked to help immobilize your child during the process. If youd prefer not to participate, a second phlebotomist may assist.
After blood is drawn, pressure is applied to the needle entry point to ensure proper blood clotting and a bandage is applied. The area may be sore or bruise slightly. The drawn blood is labeled and sent to a lab for examination.
Don’t Miss: How To Test For Hepatitis C
When Should I Seek Immediate Care
- Your child has severe abdominal pain.
- Your child is too dizzy to stand up.
- Your child feels confused or is very sleepy.
- Your child’s bowel movements are red or black, and sticky.
- Your child vomits blood or material that looks like coffee grounds.
- Your child is vomiting and cannot keep food or liquids down.
Is It Safe To Take Aspirin Or Tylenol If I Have Hepatitis C
Tylenol is an over-the-counter pain killer. It can be harmful in high doses. If you have hepatitis or liver disease, then you can take Tylenol, but no more than 2,000 mg total over 24 hours. In general, this could be one 500 mg tablet every 6 hours, at the most. Acetaminophen is also included as an ingredient in some opiate medications and in some over-the-counter cold/flu medications, so please be aware of the dose of acetaminophen you may be taking from some combination medicines.
Aspirin, ibuprofen , naproxen , and other nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs , can be harmful if you have cirrhosis. They are safe in hepatitis patients who do not have cirrhosis. But, if a patient has cirrhosis, then NSAIDs cannot be taken at all. If you are not sure, always check with your provider.
Don’t Miss: How Can Hepatitis C Be Transmitted Sexually
When Your Baby Has Hepatitis C
There are tests available when your child is 3 months old, but many experts don’t recommend them because babies can’t be treated until they’re older.
Signs that your child has hepatitis C are:
- Dark, brownish pee
- Swelling in the legs
Your doctor may suggest your child get blood tests to diagnose hepatitis C. They’re the same tests used in adults, but they’re only done in kids over the age of 2:
HCV-RNA testor qualitative HCV test. This measures whether active hepatitis C virus is in your child’s bloodstream.
Quantitative HCV test or viral load test. It checks the amount of the virus in the blood. You’ll get results that are measured in international units per liter . Lower numbers mean the disease is easier to get under control.
Viral genotyping. This test shows which kind of hepatitis C, called a “genotype,” is causing your child’s infection.
Can I Breastfeed If I Have Hepatitis C
Studies have shown that the chance of passing hepatitis C to your baby from breastfeeding is very low. You can breastfeed if you have hepatitis C, unless you also have HIV.
However, if you have hepatitis C and experience a flare-up of the illness with jaundice after your baby is born, you should not breastfeed. If your nipples are cracked or bleeding, you should also stop breastfeeding and pump and discard your milk until your nipples have healed.
Also Check: Hepatitis B Surface Ab Ql Reactive
What Foods Should I Avoid
Everyone should avoid eating a lot of fat, cholesterol, salt and processed sugar, even if their liver is healthy. In addition, those with HCV should limit or avoid alcohol. Drinking alcohol will speed up liver damage.
Eating properly can help decrease some of the symptoms of Hepatitis C, like feeling tired and sick. Drink lots of water for general health benefits. HCV is not a digestive disease diet will not affect the disease. Your provider may put you on a special diet if you have advanced liver disease.
Hepatitis C During Pregnancy: What You Need To Know
Hepatitis C is an infection that can affect unborn babies. Here’s what you need to know about this virus, including how to lower the chance of transmission to your fetus.
Hepatitis C is a chronic viral liver infection that can spread from person to person through contact with infected blood. This contact can happen if you use a contaminated needle to inject drugs, or if you get a tattoo or piercing with unsterilized equipment. Hepatitis C can also spread through unprotected sex, although this is rare, notes the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention .
If youre pregnant, you may wonder how a diagnosis of this contagious disease may affect your growing baby. Common questions include: Will my baby have the disease? Is it safe for me to be pregnant? How can I prevent transmitting the virus?
Your concerns are only natural, given that hepatitis C can advance and cause liver damage, liver failure, and liver cancer, according to the Mayo Clinic. Spreading the virus to your baby may put them at risk for these complications, too.
Heres what you need to know about the hepatitis C virus if you’re pregnant or thinking about becoming pregnant.
You May Like: Hepatitis C Genotype 2 Treatment
How Does Hepatitis C Affect The Liver
When infected, the liver becomes inflamed, which may cause the healthy, soft tissues in the liver to harden and scar. If not stopped, inflammation and scarring can lead to serious liver diseases such as cirrhosis of the liver or liver tumors. If the damage is severe enough, the liver may not perform all of its functions normally.
Does Hcv Cause Symptoms In Newborns
Doctors consider HCV a chronic condition in children who still have an HCV infection by the time they are 2 years of age. Most infants with a chronic hepatitis C infection have no symptoms, but their lab tests show may show levels of liver enzymes that characterize this condition.
In addition, infants with HCV may:
- struggle to gain weight
- grow more slowly
- have an enlarged liver or spleen
Most children who acquire HCV when they were a fetus have mild liver disease. Up to 80% have little to no scarring by the time they are 18 years old. However, 2025% develop a more aggressive form of the disease and may have severe scaring by the time they are 8 years of age.
While doctors do not recommend treatment for infants, they advise HCV screening for all babies born to a mother with the infection. It should consist of RNA testing for HCV after 12 months of age, which measures the amount of genetic material from HCV in the blood. It should start at or after 12 months of age. It should also involve an antibody-based test, which determines if the body has made proteins that fight HCV. It should not start until infants are 18 months old because up to this time, they have antibodies in the blood from their maternal mother.
Recommended Reading: How To Get Checked For Hepatitis
Tests For Hepatitis C
If the GP thinks that your childs symptoms might be caused by hepatitis C or that your child might have been exposed to hepatitis C, your child will need blood tests to confirm the diagnosis.
People infected by hepatitis C might need additional blood tests to check on their infection and to help their doctors make treatment decisions. Sometimes they might need ultrasounds of their livers too.
What Is Chronic Hepatitis C
Doctors refer to hepatitis C infections as either acute or chronic:
- An acute HCV infection is a short-term illness that clears within 6 months of when a person is exposed to the virus.
- A person who still has HCV after 6 months is said to have a chronic hepatitis C infection. This is a long-term illness, meaning the virus stays in the body and can cause lifelong illness. An estimated 3.2 million people in the U.S. have chronic HCV.
You May Like: Royal Canin Hepatic Cat Food
If I Get Tested For Hepatitis C And The Result Is Positive Do I Need Any Other Tests To Be Sure
When your provider wants to test you for hepatitis C, the first test you will have is the hepatitis C antibody . If this test is positive, it means you were infected with the hepatitis C virus at some point in the past. But this test alone is not enough. You will still need another test to confirm if you still have the hepatitis C virus in your system. About 1 out of 5 people who get infected with hepatitis C will be able get the rid of the virus on their own, without treatment, very early after their infection. So some people will have a positive antibody test, but a negative HCV RNA .
So, the second test that your provider should request is called hepatitis C virus RNA or HCV RNA test. There are several different tests available to check the HCV RNA. What matters is that if the RNA test is positive, then you do have chronic hepatitis C virus infection. If the RNA test is negative, then you may need to have this test again to be sure. If these RNA tests are all negative, then you no longer have hepatitis C infection and do not have chronic hepatitis C.
If your hepatitis C antibody test is positive, be sure that you get tested for hepatitis C RNA to find out whether the infection has become chronic or whether it has cleared. If the infection has become chronic, there are treatments your provider can prescribe to fight off the hepatitis C virus and keep your liver healthy.
Getting Tested Is The Only Way To Know If You Have Hepatitis C
A blood test called a hepatitis C antibody test can tell if you have been infected with the hepatitis C viruseither recently or in the past. If you have a positive antibody test, another blood test is needed to tell if you are still infected or if you were infected in the past and cleared the virus on your own.
- Are 18 years of age and older
- Are pregnant
- Currently inject drugs
- Have ever injected drugs, even if it was just once or many years ago
- Have HIV
- Have abnormal liver tests or liver disease
- Are on hemodialysis
Don’t Miss: How Do People Catch Hepatitis B
How Common Is Hepatitis C In Infants
Up to 46,000 children in the United States have HCV, with many being infected from their mother during the birthing process. According to the CDC, about 6 out of every 100 babies born to infected mothers contract the disease. This risk increases if the child is born to a mother with both HCV and HIV.
Research has shown that an infant has a greater chance of HCV infection if the mother has a higher viral load. The viral load refers to the amount of virus present in your bloodstream. Cesarean delivery hasnt been shown to change the risk of infection during birth.