How Can You Prevent Getting Hepatitis
There are many ways you can reduce your chances of getting hepatitis: Get the vaccines for hepatitis A and hepatitis B. Use a condom during sex. Dont share needles to take drugs. Practice good personal hygiene such as thorough hand-washing with soap and water. Dont use an infected persons personal items.
Prognosis Of Hepatitis B
The evolution of the disease is quite variable. There are probably genetic factors that are associated with the different ability to keep viral replication under control. The magnitude of the damage is also associated with age , sex , alcohol consumption and the presence of other viruses such as hepatitis C and D viruses.
It is important to know that you can spread the virus to others, even if you do not feel sick.
Can I Breastfeed My Baby If I Have Viral Hepatitis
Yes, you can breastfeed your baby if you have viral hepatitis. You cannot pass viral hepatitis through breastmilk.
But, if you have hepatitis C and your nipple or the surrounding skin is cracked or bleeding, stop nursing your baby on that breast until the sores heal. You can pump or hand-express your milk from that breast until it heals. Throw any breastmilk from that breast away, because it might have been contaminated with hepatitis C from the cracked or bleeding skin.
Pumping the breast that is cracked or bleeding will help keep up your milk supply and prevent the breast from getting overly full and painful. You can feed your baby your milk from your healthy breast.24
Read Also: Genotype 2a Hepatitis C Virus
How Easy Is It To Get Hep C
The hepatitis C virus is usually spread when someone comes into contact with blood from an infected person. This can happen through: Sharing drug-injection equipment. Today, most people become infected with hepatitis C by sharing needles, syringes, or any other equipment used to prepare and inject drugs.
Untreated Hepatitis C Complications
Hepatitis C infects the liver, an organ in your belly that produces bile for digestion and rids your body of toxins. The virus causes inflammation that slowly damages your liver over many years and leaves it scarred.
Without treatment, that damage and scarring can turn into cirrhosis in about 20% of people with the infection.
“Cirrhosis is the end stage of many decades of inflammation and injury,” Terrault says. “It means you’ve got a lot of scarring in your liver, and the scarring is interfering with the function of the liver.”
Once you have cirrhosis or liver cancer, “It’s difficult to come back from,” she adds. “Your treatment becomes a liver transplant or potentially a very complicated cancer therapy.”
Read Also: What Organ Does Hepatitis B Affect
How Do You Get Hepatitis C
Hepatitis C is a blood-borne virus. Today, hepatitis C is most often transmitted by sharing needles or other equipment to inject drugs. If you inject drugs, always use new, sterile needles and dont reuse or share needles, syringes, or other injection drug equipment.
Hepatitis C can also be transmitted during sex. When used consistently and correctly, condoms protect against hepatitis C and many other STDs.
How Is Balanitis Treated
The treatment for balanitis depends on what is causing the irritation. Your doctor will examine your penis to look for injuries. They may gently scrape off some skin cells to send to a lab for analysis.
Your doctor will prescribe an antibiotic to clear up a bacterial infection. You might need an oral antibiotic or a cream that you apply directly to your penis.
A yeast infection or other type of fungal infection will require an anti-fungal medication. There are oral treatments and creams or ointments that you can apply to the skin.
If you are reacting to a substance that touched your penis, you should stop using it as soon as possible. Your doctor may offer a steroid cream to bring down swelling and soothe any itching. Antihistamines might help reduce the severity of the reaction.
If the swelling is related to a condition such as an autoimmune disorder or type 2 diabetes, your doctor will treat the underlying health issue as well as giving you medicine to ease your symptoms.
Don’t Miss: What Type Of Virus Is Hepatitis C
How Do You Test For Hepatitis C
A simple blood test carried out by a healthcare professional will show whether you have the virus. You may also be given an extra test to see if your liver is damaged.
If youve got hepatitis C you should be tested for other STIs. Its important that you tell your recent sexual partner/s so they can also get tested and treated. Many people who have hepatitis C do not notice anything wrong, and by telling them you can help to stop the virus being passed on. It can also stop you from getting the infection again.
Prevention Is The Best Medicine
Even though hepatitis C rarely spreads within a household, if you or a family member have the disease, it’s 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.
Who Should Get The Hepatitis A Vaccine
The hepatitis A vaccine is given in two doses, six to 18 months apart. Two doses are needed for lasting protection.
The vaccine is recommended for:27
- All children, starting at 1 year
- Men who have sex with men
- People who travel or work in a part of the world where hepatitis A is common, such as certain parts of Central or South America, Asia, Africa, and eastern Europe. See the CDCs Travelers Health Information.
- People who use illegal drugs
- People who are treated with clotting factor concentrates, such as people with hemophilia
- People with chronic liver disease
- People who work with hepatitis A in a laboratory or with hepatitis Ainfected primates
- Members of households planning to adopt a child, or care for a newly arriving adopted child, from a country where hepatitis A is common. See the CDCs Travelers Health information page for international adoptions.
What Can Happen If Viral Hepatitis Is Not Treated
Most people recover from hepatitis A with no treatment or long-lasting health problems.
Chronic hepatitis B and C can lead to serious health problems, such as:19
- Cirrhosis, or scarring of the liver
- Liver cancer
- Liver failure
People with liver failure may need a liver transplant to survive. In the United States, cirrhosis caused by chronic hepatitis C is currently the most common reason for needing a liver transplant.20 Viral hepatitis is also the most common cause of liver cancer.21
Recommended Reading: Hepatitis C Symptoms Mayo Clinic
How Is Viral Hepatitis Diagnosed
Talk to your doctor if you have symptoms of viral hepatitis. Your doctor will:
- Ask questions about your health history
- Do a physical exam
- Order blood tests that look for parts of the virus or antibodies that your body makes in response to the virus. Other tests may measure the amount of the virus in your blood.
Is There A Way To Prevent Hepatitis C
Although currently theres no vaccine to protect people from contracting hepatitis C, there are vaccines for other hepatitis viruses, including hepatitis A and hepatitis B.
If you receive a hepatitis C diagnosis, your healthcare provider may advise you to get vaccinated against hepatitis A and B.
The vaccinations are recommended because these hepatitis viruses can lead to additional health and liver complications, especially in those with preexisting liver disease.
Since you cant prevent hepatitis C through a vaccine, the best prevention is to avoid exposure. Hepatitis C is a bloodborne pathogen, so you can limit your chances of exposure through these healthy lifestyle practices:
- Avoid sharing needles, razor blades, or nail clippers.
- Use proper safety precautions if youll be exposed to bodily fluids, such as when performing first aid.
- Hepatitis C isnt usually transmitted through sexual contact, but its possible. Limit your exposure by practicing sex with a condom or other barrier method. Its also important to openly communicate with sexual partners and to get tested if you suspect youve been exposed to the hepatitis C virus.
Because hepatitis C is transmitted through blood, its possible to contract it through a blood transfusion.
However, since the early 1990s, blood product screening tests have been standard protocol for minimizing the risk of this type of transmission.
Subsequent testing is based on risk. Talk to your doctor about your needs.
Read Also: Hep C Without Hepatic Coma
How Do You Get Hepatitis A
Hepatitis A is found in an infected persons stool .
Hepatitis A is spread through:
- Eating or drinking contaminated food or water
- You can get hepatitis A by eating food prepared by a person with the virus who didnt wash his or her hands after using the bathroom and then touched the food.
- You can get hepatitis A by eating raw or undercooked shellfish that came from sewage-contaminated water.
You are more likely to get hepatitis A if you travel out of the country to a developing country with poor sanitation or without access to clean water and have not gotten vaccinated for hepatitis A. Ask your doctor if you need a hepatitis A vaccination.
Understand Your Diagnosis And Test Results
It’s important to understand your diagnosis, including the details regarding treatment. It’s a good idea to always ask for a copy of your labs so you can have them on hand to research or share with someone who can explain the virus and its presence.
I had one child test positive and we went for over a year thinking he was carrying this potentially life-threatening illness. His hep C cleared without treatment, but his doctor never even ordered that second confirmatory test. This is a pretty basic part of hep C testing our doctor should have known about and yet he didn’t. So be clear. Ask questions. If you find your doctor is lacking in resources and details, take your labs to someone who can decipher the numbers and names.
Don’t Miss: Hepatitis C Affects What Organs
Can The Results Of Liver Panel Tests Point To The Presence Of Hepatitis C
A liver panel usually includes tests called AST, ALT, bilirubin, alkaline phosphatase, and some others. Abnormal results could show up in many different conditions, not just hepatitis C. And even if the results of a liver panel are normal, you might still have hepatitis C. So, the liver panel alone cannot tell your provider the answer.
Hepatitis C can be diagnosed only by blood tests that are specific to hepatitis C:
In short, if the results of one or more tests on a liver panel are abnormal, generally speaking, the tests should be repeated and confirmed. If the results remain abnormal, your provider should be prompted to look for the cause.
More important than using the liver panel, if you have risks of having been infected with hepatitis C then you should have the specific hepatitis C antibody test to determine if you have hepatitis C infection.
When Your Child Has Hepatitis C Infection
Hepatitis is an inflammation of the liver. Many things can cause it. One of the causes is infection with a virus called the hepatitis C virus . In some cases, hepatitis C goes away on its own. But for most people, hepatitis C is a chronic problem. Hepatitis C almost never causes symptoms until later in the disease. Even so, hepatitis C can cause severe liver damage over time. And a child who has it can pass the virus to others.
You May Like: Hepatitis C High Viral Load
What Should You Do To Protect Your Liver If You Have Hepatitis C
Following a healthy lifestyle reduces the risk of hepatitis C progressing to cirrhosis and liver failure. These healthy habits may help you slow the diseases advancement: Dont drink alcohol. The most important thing you can do if you have hepatitis C is to not drink alcohol. Alcohol can cause further liver damage.Achieve or maintain a Body Mass Index less than 30. As your BMI increases, your risk of fatty liver increases. If you have hepatitis C and fatty liver, you increase your risk for cirrhosis, liver failure and the need for a liver transplant.Quit smoking. Smoking increases your risk of developing cirrhosis and liver failure.Participate in moderate-intensity physical activity. In one study, 60 minutes of daily walking improved liver function in people with liver disease.Lowering the C LevelsUT Southwestern researchers have been involved in clinical trials on hepatitis C since the virus was discovered in 1989. Consequently, our liver specialists remain on the leading edge of effective treatment for the disease.If youre at risk for hepatitis C, get tested as soon as possible. We cant stress enough the importance of early detection. If you test positive, consult a liver specialist for further evaluation and treatment. With improvements in treatment, the public health emphasis on cleaning up the blood supply and universal precautions for handling blood, its possible that within the next 20 years, hepatitis C will become rare and complications from it even rarer.
Questions To Ask Your Doctor
- Do I need treatment?
- What treatment is best for me?
- What medicines should I take?
- Are there any medicines I should avoid?
- How can I cope with the side effects of treatment?
- Is there a therapist I can talk to?
- How long will my treatment last?
- Can hepatitis C be cured?
- Are organ transplants and blood transfusions safe?
- Is it safe for me to get pregnant?
Recommended Reading: What Happens When You Have Hepatitis C
How Can I Get Free Or Low
The hepatitis A and hepatitis B vaccines are covered under most insurance plans.
- If you have insurance, check with your insurance provider to find out whats included in your plan.
- Medicare Part B covers hepatitis B vaccines for people at risk.
- If you have Medicaid, the benefits covered are different in each state. Check with your state’s program.
Find a clinic near you where you can get vaccines for hepatitis A and B.
Acute Hcv Infection And Clearance
HCV virus is present in blood 2â14 days after initial exposure. Concentrations of alanine aminotransferase and aspartate aminotransferase increase and HCV-specific antibodies are produced 20â150 days after exposure.â Primary infection with HCV is generally asymptomatic, although 15â30% of individuals develop symptomatic acute hepatitis illness within 5â12 weeks of exposure lasting 2â12 weeks., Symptomatic primary HCV infection is often mild, with non-specific symptoms such as lethargy and myalgia, but individuals can present with jaundice., In about 25% of patients, acute infection is followed by viral clearance, defined as undetectable concentrations of HCV RNA in blood. Most of these individuals clear infection by 6 months or 12 months .â However, spontaneous HCV clearance after 1 year has been reported., Most patients do not have viral clearance and viraemia persists after 6 months, leading to chronic infection and progression to cirrhosis in 5â10% of individuals within 20 years.
Host polymorphisms of proteins such as HLA class I and II, natural-killer-cell receptors, chemokines, interleukins, and of interferon-stimulated genes have been associated with control of HCV. However, the genetic associations identified have not been confirmed in independent cohorts, differ in diverse populations, and studies are limited by small sample size or varying definitions of HCV outcome moreover, little is known about their functional basis.
Read Also: Most Common Way To Get Hepatitis C
Myths About Hepatitis C
The hepatitis C virus can cause an infection that, left untreated, may result in major liver damage. But despite the seriousness of the virus, many people are confused about whos at risk and how it spreads from one person to another.
An estimated 2.7 to 3.9 million people in the United States have chronic hepatitis C, according to the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases, and more than half are not aware that they are infected.
This is partly because many people arent being screened for the virus. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that everyone be screened for the virus at least once. In the past, baby boomers were particularly at risk, since they may have received a blood transfusion before the blood supply was routinely screened for the virus. Now, though, people of all generations seem to be equally at risk for hepatitis C, according to data published in 2020 by the CDC.
Thanks to scientific advances, doctors have learned a lot about hepatitis C over the past few decades. Hepatitis C research has been around long enough that we have a good understanding of the disease, says Cristina Strahotin, MD, a gastroenterologist with Allegheny Health Network in Pittsburgh.