Here Are Some More Symptoms To Be Aware Of:
- Loss of appetite
- Fatigue and weakness
Malnourishment is par for the course in those suffering from this disease. Thats because drinking lots of alcohol can suppress the appetite. Heavy drinkers get most of their caloric intake from alcohol therefore, they feel no need for food. In severe cases, the victim can accumulate fluid in the abdomen, become confused, and act differently all due to a buildup of toxins that the liver is normally in charge of breaking down. Because the liver isnt working properly, those toxins build up to dangerous levels. As a result, kidney and liver failure are very real possibilities.
Alcoholism & Hepatitis C
What happens if you are an alcoholic and you contract hepatitis C?
Significant liver damage can be expected, even leading to cirrhosis.
It is of the utmost importance that you stop drinking forever.
If you are HCV positive, just three or more drinks a day or more increases your risk of cirrhosis, according to a JAMA study.
Need more reasons to stop drinking? Continued alcohol use may also interfere with your ability to consistently adhere to a medication regimen that can tackle HCV infection. In fact, you may not be prescribed HCV treatment if you continue to drink.
Other Factors Influencing Ald Development
Other factors besides alcohol also may influence ALD development, including demographic and biological factors such as ethnic and racial background, gender, age, education, income, employment, and a family history of drinking problems.
Women are at higher risk than men for developing cirrhosis. This higher risk may be the result of differences in the way alcohol is absorbed and broken down. When a woman drinks, the alcohol in her bloodstream reaches a higher level than a mans even if both are drinking the same amount. The chemicals involved in breaking down alcohol also differ between men and women.
For example, womens stomachs may contain less of a key enzyme needed for the initial breakdown of alcohol. This means that a woman breaks down alcohol at a slower rate, exposing her liver to higher blood alcohol concentrations for longer periods of time-a situation that is potentially toxic to the liver. Differences in how a womans body breaks down and removes alcohol also may be linked to how much and how often she drinks, the fact that estrogen is present in her body, and even her liver size.
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Sometimes The Infection Goes Away On Its Own
Acute hepatitis is C is a short-term illness that occurs within the first six months after being exposed to the virus. Like the human papillomavirus , early acute hepatitis C can clear on its own without treatment this happens about 25% of the time.
However, its more likely that the virus will remain in your body longer than six months, at which point its considered to be chronic hepatitis C infection.
Being younger or a woman tends to be a factor in whether the virus clears on its own, and genetics may play a role, Reau says. But we cant determine with certainty which people are certain to clear the infection and which arent.
Eat Regular Nutritious Meals
Sometimes people with hepatitis C have a hard time eating. You may have no appetite, feel nauseated, or have different tastes than you are used to. Even if you dont feel like eating, its very important to eat small meals throughout the day. Some people have nausea in the afternoon. If this happens to you, try to eat a big, nutritious meal in the morning.
If you have cirrhosis, it may not be a good idea to eat salty foods or foods that are high in protein. If you want to know more about which foods to avoid and which foods are good to eat, ask your doctor about meeting with a registered dietitian to discuss a healthy eating plan.
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How Is It Diagnosed
- Medical history. Your doctor may ask about your medical past to see if thereâs reason to believe you may have alcohol-related liver problems.
- Questionnaire. Theyâll ask you questions to determine if your drinking has become a problem.
- Blood tests. These will check your liver enzymes. Abnormally high levels are a sign of liver damage.
- Liver biopsy. Your doctor may request one in addition to blood tests.
Baby Boomers Are Especially Vulnerable
The hepatitis C virus didnt have a name or a screening test until in 1989, Reau says. That means people born between 1945 and 1965, the group referred to as baby boomers, are at highest risk of infection. They grew up before health care facilities started taking standard precautions, like not sharing vials of medicine among patients and requiring staff to wear gloves.
The CDC reports that baby boomers are five times more likely to have Hepatitis C than other adults, accounting for 75% of those living with the disease.
These are some other reasons you may be at risk:
- You have engaged in high-risk behaviors like IV drug use or unprotected sex
- Your biological mother has/had hepatitis C
- You received blood transfusions, an organ transplant or dialysis before 1989
- You were or are currently incarcerated
If youve just been diagnosed with hepatitis C, you may wonder how you got it and worry about passing on the virus to a loved one. If youve had the disease for a long time without knowing it, you could dwell on every little incident in the past where you might have accidentally exposed a family member to the disease.
Its important to remember that hepatitis C isnt easy to catch. If you take a few precautions, its almost impossible to pass on the disease to someone else.
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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
Cirrhosis Of The Liver
Cirrhosis happens when scar tissue permanently replaces the healthy tissue of your liver. Scar tissue affects the normal function of your liver and can eventually cause it to fail.
If you develop cirrhosis as a result of heavy alcohol use, alcoholic hepatitis can get worse. Cirrhosis can also raise your risk of liver cancer.
Avoid Alcohol And Drugs
One of the most important jobs of your liver is to break down drugs and alcohol. If you have hepatitis C, one of the best things you can do is to avoid substances that may harm your liver, such as alcohol and illegal drugs. If you have cirrhosis, you also may need to avoid certain medicines.
If you use illegal drugs or drink alcohol, it is important to stop. Being honest with your doctor about your drug and alcohol use will help you deal with any substance use disorders. If you dont feel that you can talk openly with your doctor, you may want to find a doctor you feel more comfortable with. If you want to stop using drugs or alcohol and need help to do so, ask your doctor or someone else you trust about drug and alcohol treatment options.
Because many medicines can stress your liver, talk to your doctor before you take any prescription or over-the-counter medicines. This includes herbal remedies as well.
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How Is Alcoholic Hepatitis Treated
The goal of treatment is to restore some or all normal functioning to the liver.
You will need to stop drinking alcohol. To do thi, you may need to be in an alcohol treatment program. Sometimes you may also need to change your diet. Scarring of the liver is permanent. But the liver is often able to repair some of the damage caused by alcohol so you can live a normal life.
You may be admitted to the hospital or treated on an outpatient basis. There is no medicine to cure alcoholic hepatitis. Treatment involves easing the symptoms and keeping the disease from getting worse.
Be sure to ask your healthcare provider about recommended vaccines. These include vaccines for viruses that can cause liver disease.
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Seek Help For Depression
You may feel angry or depressed about having to live with a long-term, serious disease. You may have a hard time knowing how to tell other people that you have the virus. It can be helpful to talk with a social worker or counsellor about what having the disease means to you. You also may want to find a support group for people with hepatitis C. If you dont have a support group in your area, there are several on the Internet.
Depression may develop in anyone who has a long-term illness. It also can be a side effect of antiviral medicines for hepatitis C. If you are feeling depressed, talk to your doctor about antidepressant medicines and/or counselling. For more information, see the topic Depression.
Risk Factors For Alcohol Related Liver Disease
Not everyone who drinks heavily develops ALD. While the amount of alcohol and the length of time as a heavy drinker are the key risk factors, additional forces impact the outcome. They are:
- Obesity/Overweight: Carrying extra weight increases the risk of liver disease because fat builds up in the liver. The fat cells secrete acids which cause a reaction that destroys healthy cells in the liver, leading to scarring. Add alcohol to the mix and the combined effect adds additional liver damage.
- Malnutrition: Often people who drink heavily, eat poorly. They also may have trouble absorbing nutrients because alcohols toxic byproducts make it difficult to break down food. The lack of nutrients contributes to liver cell damage.
- Genetic component: How a body metabolizes alcohol is influenced by genetics. If certain enzymes are missing, that can affect the risk of developing ALD.
- Demographic influencers: Rates of alcohol cirrhosis are higher in African-American and Hispanic males than they are in Caucasian males. Women are more susceptible than men to the impact of alcohol because they become more impaired than men after drinking equal amounts.
- Having viral hepatitis, especially hepatitis C: Adding alcohol to a liver already taxed by hepatitis increases the risk of developing liver disease, as well as liver cancer.
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Alcoholic Hepatitis: What Is It And How Can It Be Prevented
Chronic alcohol abuse can lead to a number of serious illnesses. Among the more common is alcoholic hepatitis.
Although this illness mainly affects heavy drinkers, there are cases of moderate drinkers developing alcoholic hepatitis as well. If you drink regularly, its important to be aware of this condition, and how it can be treated or prevented.
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Stage : Alcoholic Hepatitis
At this stage, the liver becomes inflamed and experiences degenerative changes. Significant, permanent scarring and lever cell damage and death can occur.
Common clinical signs of alcoholic hepatitis include:
- Abdominal tenderness/pain
- Swollen, painful liver
Alcoholic hepatitis can be diagnosed using blood tests, electrolyte tests and liver function studies as well as an abdominal ultrasound, CT scan, MRI and/or a liver biopsy.
Unfortunately, there are no medications available to treat alcoholic hepatitis. The symptoms can be addressed, however.
It is imperative to stop alcohol consumption so that your liver can recover as much as possible. Even though scarring is permanent, your liver will, over time, repair some of the damage.
If heavy drinking continues, 40 percent of alcoholic hepatitis cases will develop into cirrhosis.
If you have alcoholic hepatitis, it would be wise to be vaccinated against the viral forms of hepatitis . Contracting them can lead to even more damage to your liver.
Hopefully, alcoholic hepatitis can be caught early. If it does progress, severe alcoholic hepatitis carries a 50 percent death rate.
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What Are The Other Health Challenges For People With Hepatitis Who Inject Drugs
People with hepatitis who inject drugs often have several other health conditions at the same time, including mental illness and HIV/AIDS, thus requiring care from multiple health care providers. This is sometimes referred to as co-occurring disorders. Substance use disorder treatment is critical for PWID, as it can reduce risky behaviors that increase the chance of transmitting hepatitis. Research has shown that patients with hepatitis receiving medication-assisted treatment for their opioid addiction can be safely treated with antiviral medications.5
To enhance HCV care, NIDA is examining coordinated care models that utilize case managers to integrate HCV specialty care with primary care, substance use disorder treatment, and mental health services so that these patients get treatment regimens that address all of their health care needs. The Health Resources and Services Administrations Ryan White HIV/AIDS Program developed a free, online curriculum about HIV/hepatitis C for healthcare providers and healthcare staff to increase knowledge about co-infection among people of color in the United States.
How Does Hepatitis C Progress
When someone is first infected with hepatitis C, most likely they have no symptoms and are unaware. Occasionally people experience fatigue, loss of appetite, weakness or sometimes having a yellow color in their skin or eyes. Although having any symptoms at all is rare, if they do occur, they usually go away within a few weeks.
Around 15-25% of people who are infected will spontaneously fight off the virus on their own and they will not have a chronic hepatitis C infection and no long term damage occurs.
But around 75-85% of people will develop chronic infection. Most of the time, people with chronic hepatitis C have no symptoms at the time of infection and no symptoms for years or even decades of chronic infection. The virus will be with them until they are successfully treated with hepatitis C medications.
Around 10-20% of people with chronic infection will slowly have gradual damage in the liver over years and will eventually develop cirrhosis . This can take 20 years or more from the time of the initial infection.
Cirrhosis is the replacement of liver cells with permanent scar tissue. Cirrhosis can lead to problems such as bleeding from veins in the esophagus, fluid buildup in the belly, and damaged brain function.Approximately 15% of people with cirrhosis will develop liver cancer during their lifetime. Drinking excessively can double the chance of liver cancer in people infected with HCV.
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What Are The Side Effects Of Treatments For Alcoholic Hepatitis
Because alcohol is a drug and is addictive, suddenly stopping drinking is difficult and may cause dangerous side effects. For instance, it can cause alcohol withdrawal symptoms, which include anxiety, confusion, hallucinations and seizures. Patients may be referred to a medically supervised program, or recommended for counseling or a support group to help them stop drinking and to help cope with side effects.
Epidemiology Of Hepatitis C Among Alcoholics
Almost onethird of alcoholics with clinical symptoms of liver disease have been infected with HCV, which is four times the rate of HCV infection found in alcoholics who do not have liver disease . As shown in figure 1, people with more severe liver disease are considerably more likely to test positive for HCV infection than those with less severe liver disease .
Figure 1 Patients with more severe alcoholic liver disease have a significantly higher prevalence of HCV infection .
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Quitting Drinking Abruptly Can Be Dangerous
If you have been drinking heavily for an extended period of time, stopping cold turkey, or all at once, can have serious, even life threatening, health consequences.
Typically, seeking medical guidance to stop drinking gradually under the supervision of a doctor or other healthcare professional can be a safer option and help you prevent complications.
Transplant Outcomes With Hcv Co
Approximately 11% of the 54,687 adult liver transplants performed in the United States during 19942009 were for the indication of combined alcohol and chronic hepatitis C . This is compared to a reported 15,000 for chronic hepatitis C alone and 9000 for alcohol alone. It is highly likely that there is significant underreporting of alcohol use in the patients transplanted for chronic hepatitis C alone. It is anticipated that liver transplantation for the indication of cirrhosis due to chronic HCV could decline around the year 2020.
HCV infection adversely affects outcome after liver transplantation. In an early study from the UNOS database of over 11,000 cases transplanted between 1992 and 1998, the 1, 3 and 5 year survivals for HCV positive transplant recipients were 86.4%, 77.8% and 69.9%, compared to 87.5%, 81.8% and 76.6% for HCV negative transplant recipients . The inferior outcomes in recipients with HCV infection are likely related to allograft hepatitis with accelerated fibrosis and progression to cirrhosis .
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