How Is It Spread
Hepatitis C virus is mostly spread by blood from aninfected person when:
- Sharing needles or other equipment to inject drugs. This is the most common way people get hepatitis C in the U.S.
- Getting a needle stick with a needle that was used on an infected person
- Sharing items that may have come in contact with another person’s blood, such as razors, nail clippers, pierced earrings, toothbrushes
- Being tattooed or pierced with tools that were used on an infected person
- Having sexual contact with a person infected with the hepatitis C virus. The risk of getting hepatitis C from sexual contact is thought to be low.
Hepatitis C is rarely spread from a blood transfusion because:
- Hepatitis C tests are done on all donated blood.
- Blood and blood products that test positive for hepatitis C are safely destroyed. None are used for transfusions.
- There is no risk of getting hepatitis C when donating or giving blood.
Hepatitis C is not spread by kissing,hugging, coughing, or sharing food and eating utensils.
Managing Your Health While On Treatment
There are many things you can do to improve your health and feel better while on treatment for your Hepatitis C infection. And by taking good care of yourself, you will increase your chances of be able to take your medication as prescribed.
IMPORTANCE OF DIET AND NUTRITION
Contrary to some claims you might read on the Internet, there is no special Hepatitis C diet. However, a healthy diet can improve liver health in a person with Hepatitis C.
A well-balanced diet can lead to better liver functioning and lowered risk of cirrhosis of the liver. It can also help your immune system fight off illness. People with Hepatitis C tend to have higher rates of diabetes, but a good diet can help control blood sugar and reduce body fat, thereby lowering your risk for becoming diabetic.
Multiple studies have now demonstrated the benefit of drinking coffee to improve liver health in Hepatitis C. Studies suggest you need to drink more than two cups per day to gain this benefit. However, the research is not strong enough to make a recommendation to start drinking coffee and some people do not tolerate it well. But for those who currently do drink coffee enjoy!
General dietary recommendations include the following:
BE CAUTIOUS ABOUT DIETARY SUPPLEMENTS
Certain vitamins and minerals like vitamins A and D, iron and niacin can be harmful to your liver in high doses. Before taking a vitamin or supplement, its best to talk with your doctor, dietician or nutritionist.
Researching An Hiv Cure: The Main Approaches
Although the stem cell approach has had some success in the past, its very dangerous for the patient. It would only be considered a viable option, if the person needed a stem cell transplant to treat another more deadly condition, such as very advanced leukaemia which, unlike HIV, doesnt have as many other safe and effective treatment options available.
While there is promising research being carried out in these areas, there is no viable cure on the horizon.
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Chronic Hepatitis B Complications
Chronic hepatitis B can lead to
- cirrhosis, a condition in which scar tissue replaces healthy liver tissue and prevents your liver from working normally. Scar tissue also partly blocks the flow of blood through the liver. As cirrhosis gets worse, the liver begins to fail.
- liver failure, in which your liver is badly damaged and stops working. Liver failure is also called end-stage liver disease. People with liver failure may require a liver transplant.
- liver cancer. Your doctor may suggest blood tests and an ultrasound or another type of imaging test to check for liver cancer. Finding cancer at an early stage improves the chance of curing the cancer.
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Prevention Is The Best Medicine
Even though hepatitis C rarely spreads within a household, if you or a family member have the disease, its wise to take precautions to prevent its spread especially if anyone in your home is immune compromised, or has cuts or open sores that increase the risk of infection.
In general, use these common sense preventive tips:
- Unless you are in a long-term, monogamous relationship, practice safe sex.
- Clean up spilled or dried blood with a bleach-based cleaning solution and wear rubber gloves.
- Do not share razors.
- Do not share toothbrushes. Though hepatitis C is not transmitted through saliva, there might be blood on the toothbrush, Reau says.
Note that hepatitis C is not transmitted by sharing eating utensils, hugging, kissing, coughing or sneezing.
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When To Seek Medical Advice
See your GP if you persistently have any of the later symptoms above, or if they keep returning. They may recommend having a blood test that can check for hepatitis C. Read more about diagnosing hepatitis C.
None of the symptoms above mean you definitely have hepatitis C, but its important to get them checked out.
You should also speak to your GP about getting tested if theres a risk youre infected, even if you dont have any symptoms. This particularly includes people who inject drugs or have done so in the past.
Read about the causes of hepatitis C for more information about whos at risk of having the infection.
Hiv And Hepatitis C Coinfection
HCV infection is common among people with HIV who also inject drugs. Nearly 75% of people living with HIV who report a history of injection drug use are co-infected with HCV. All people who are diagnosed with HIV are recommended to be tested for HCV at least once. People living with HIV are at greater risk for complications and death from HCV infection. Fortunately, direct acting antivirals that are used to treat HCV work equally well in people with and without HIV infection. For more information about HIV and HCV coinfection, visit the HIV.govs pages about hepatitis C and HIV coinfection.
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Why Cure Hep C
Curing your hep C clears the virus from your body. It reduces liver inflammation and can help reverse fibrosis and even cirrhosis.
Live free from the worry of hep C knowing that you no longer have hep C can help you feel better about yourself. For example, you may no longer feel worried about passing hep C to other people. There has been no better time to think about hep C treatment.
Find out more about the benefits of clearing hep C call the Hepatitis Infoline.
Grace talks about her experience of being cured of hepatitis C with new, highly effective treatments. Theres never been a better time to be cured of hep C.
How Do Doctors Treat Hepatitis C
Doctors treat hepatitis C with antiviral medicines that attack the virus and can cure the disease in most cases.
Several newer medicines, called direct-acting antiviral medicines, have been approved to treat hepatitis C since 2013. Studies show that these medicines can cure chronic hepatitis C in most people with this disease. These medicines can also cure acute hepatitis C. In some cases, doctors recommend waiting to see if an acute infection becomes chronic before starting treatment.
Your doctor may prescribe one or more of these newer, direct-acting antiviral medicines to treat hepatitis C:
You may need to take medicines for 8 to 24 weeks to cure hepatitis C. Your doctor will prescribe medicines and recommend a length of treatment based on
- which hepatitis C genotype you have
- how much liver damage you have
- whether you have been treated for hepatitis C in the past
Your doctor may order blood tests during and after your treatment. Blood tests can show whether the treatment is working. Hepatitis C medicines cure the infection in most people who complete treatment.
Hepatitis C medicines may cause side effects. Talk with your doctor about the side effects of treatment. Check with your doctor before taking any other prescription or over-the-counter medicines.
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Pregnancy And Hepatitis C
The new hepatitis C medicines have not been tested in pregnancy.
You should not become pregnant while taking treatment as it could be harmful to unborn babies.
If youre pregnant, you must delay treatment until after your baby is born.
Speak to your doctor before starting hepatitis C treatment if youre planning to become pregnant in the near future.
Youll need to wait several weeks after treatment has ended before trying to get pregnant.
Women taking ribavirin should use contraception during treatment and for another 4 months after the end of treatment.
If you become pregnant during treatment, speak to your doctor as soon as possible to discuss your treatment options.
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How Do You Get Hepatitis C
Lets start by how you cant get hepatitis C: You wont get it from hugging, touching or kissing another person with the virus. You cant get it from living together, sharing a cab or sitting in a meeting with an infected person. Its not passed on through sweat, so taking a spin class with someone who has hepatitis C isnt a problem.
So what is a problem? Anything that involves coming in contact with the blood of an infected person. Hepatitis C is a blood-borne virus, says Dr. Dieterich. It is transmitted through the blood, so IV drug use is a major driver of the virus, especially now due to the heroin epidemic. Also anybody who had a blood transfusion before June 1992 is at risk. These are a few other ways the disease is transmitted, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention:
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What You Need To Know While On Treatment
Now that youve made the decision to pursue treatment for your Hepatitis C infection, youll want to do everything you can to make it a success. Adherence to Hepatitis C therapy is an important predictor of successful treatment. Adhering to other aspects of your treatment plan like keeping medical appointments and getting the necessary lab tests is also important. In this section we give you helpful tips on how to minimize side effects of therapy, deal with depression, manage your health and continue to work and travel while on treatment, all with the goal of maximizing your chance of treatment success and minimizing potential problems.
Hepatitis C Treatment And Herbs
Unlike conventional medical treatments, most herbal therapies have not undergone rigorous scientific study. Fortunately, a greater effort is being made to evaluate the safety and effectiveness of various types of dietary supplements, including herbs, through the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health formerly called the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine a center of the National Institutes of Health .
So while some products may be safe others may actually pose significant risks for example, by producing serious side effects or interacting badly with your Hepatitis C medication. Because herbs can interfere with the action of Hepatitis C medications, its important to tell your doctor about everything youre taking before starting treatment for Hepatitis C. And while getting treated, its important not to take any new herbs or supplements before consulting with your healthcare provider. For example, you should NOT take St. Johns wort , or a product that contains St. Johns wort, with several of the medications used to treat Hepatitis C, including Olysio, Sovaldi, Harvoni, and Daklinza.
CERTAIN HERBS ASSOCIATED WITH LIVER DAMAGE
Its also important to be aware that several common herbs can cause liver damage, especially in people with an existing liver disease such as Hepatitis C. These include:
Additionally, the following groups of people should avoid the use of herbs in general unless ordered by their medical provider:
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You Might Need To Get Vaccinated Against Hepatitis A And B
Hepatitis A, B, and C are three different viruses that all cause inflammation of the liver. If you have hepatitis C and contract one of the other two hepatitis viruses, your symptoms will be even more severe, says Massoud.
If you havent already been vaccinated against hepatitis A and B and also have cirrhosis, the CDC recommends getting the shots after youve finished your hepatitis C treatment, to prevent additional liver damage.
What About Complementary Therapies
Some people seek out complementary or alternative ways to treat their Hepatitis C. Complementary and alternative medicine, known as CAM, includes a variety of interventions. Some common complementary therapies include the following:
Relaxation techniques, such as meditation and visualization
- These focus on how a persons mind and imagination can promote overall health and well-being.
Physical techniques, such as massage, yoga, and tai chi
- These focus on using a persons body and senses to promote healing and well-being.
- These are substances that come from plants. They can be taken from all parts of a plant, including the leaves, roots, flowers and berries.
These therapies, which are based on different traditions and disciplines, are generally considered to be outside the realm of conventional Western medicine. When used with conventional medicine, they are referred to as complementary. When used instead of conventional medicine, they are considered alternative.
Generally, physical and relaxation therapies are safe. However, some complementary medicines can be dangerous, particularly for people who have liver disease. Many people use complementary medicines because they believe that its natural and therefore healthy and harmless. But natural does not equal healthy or safe. Poison ivy is natural, but its certainly not harmless.
For more detailed information about Hepatitis C and complementary therapies, you can visit the NCCIH website.
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How Should I Take Care Of Myself If I Have Hepatitis C
Good health habits are essential for those who have hepatitis C. You should especially avoid alcohol and medicines and drugs that can put stress on the liver. You should eat a healthy diet and start exercising regularly. Your family doctor can help you plan a diet that is healthy and practical.
Talk to your doctor about any medicines that you are taking, including over-the-counter medicine. Many medicines, including acetaminophen , are broken down by the liver. Because of this, they may increase the speed of liver damage. You should also limit alcohol use. It speeds the progression of liver diseases like hepatitis C. An occasional alcoholic drink may be okay, but check with your doctor first.
What Causes Hepatitis C
The hepatitis C virus causes hepatitis C. The hepatitis C virus spreads through contact with an infected persons blood. Contact can occur by
- sharing drug needles or other drug materials with an infected person
- getting an accidental stick with a needle that was used on an infected person
- being tattooed or pierced with tools or inks that were not kept sterilefree from all viruses and other microorganismsand were used on an infected person before they were used on you
- having contact with the blood or open sores of an infected person
- using an infected persons razor, toothbrush, or nail clippers
- being born to a mother with hepatitis C
- having unprotected sex with an infected person
You cant get hepatitis C from
- being coughed or sneezed on by an infected person
- drinking water or eating food
- hugging an infected person
- shaking hands or holding hands with an infected person
- sharing spoons, forks, and other eating utensils
- sitting next to an infected person
A baby cant get hepatitis C from breast milk.18
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Testing For Hepatitis C
Hepatitis C is usually diagnosed using 2 blood tests: the antibody test and the PCR test. These can be as part of a routine blood test or are often combined as a dried blood spot test. The dried blood spot test is similar to a blood sugar test in pricking the finger to get a blood spot that is put on a testing card. This is then sent to a laboratory to be tested.
Another similar test is an antigen test, which if used can often get the results back in 90 minutes. This is very expensive and not many services have access to the machine needed.
Who Is At Risk Of Hepatitis C
Anyone can get hepatitis C. It is important for peopleat high risk of infection to be tested and treated forhepatitis C. In the U.S., you are at a higher risk if you:
- Have ever used a needle to inject drugs, even if once and long ago
- Had a blood transfusion or organ transplant before 1992
- Are a health care worker who had blood exposure to mucous membranes or to non-intact skin, or a needlestick injury
- Have ever been on kidney dialysis
- Were born of a mother who had hepatitis C at the time
- Are a Vietnam-era Veteran
- Had contact with hepatitis-C-positive blood to nonintact skin or to mucous membranes
- Received tattoos or body piercings in non-regulated settings
- Have ever snorted drugs or shared drug equipment
- Have liver disease
- Have a history of alcohol abuse
- Have hemophilia and received clotting factor before 1987
- Have had a sexual partner with hepatitis C, now or in the past
- Have had 10 or more lifetime sexual partners
- Have HIV infection
The only way to know if you haveHepatitis C is to be tested. VA offershepatitis C testing and treatment toenrolled Veterans.
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