Understanding The Early Signs Of Hepatitis
Hepatitis is the inflammation of the liver. It commonly occurs due to viral infection. Understanding the disease and identifying its early signs is vital as unmanaged hepatitis can lead to cirrhosis and liver cancer. According to WHO, viral hepatitis causes 1.34 million deaths worldwide.
Hepatitis is divided into five categories, namely hepatitis A, B, C, D, and E. A different virus causes infection in each of these types. Hepatitis A, B, and C are the most common types of viral hepatitis, while the remaining two occur rarely.
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services estimates that 2.4 million Americans have hepatitis C, whereas approximately 850,000 people have hepatitis B. According to the CDC, most cases of hepatitis go unreported. In 2018 alone, around 24,900 Americans were reported to have hepatitis A, 21,600 cases of hepatitis B, and 50,300 cases of hepatitis C.
The Early Symptoms Of Hepatitis
First, it is important to understand how people may develop hepatitis. For example, some people develop hepatitis as a sexually transmitted infection. Other people develop hepatitis after eating food that may not have been cooked properly. Some people develop hepatitis following exposure to an insect, such as a tick or mosquito.
Sometimes, it could take weeks, or even months, for symptoms of hepatitis to show up. That is why it is important for people to see a doctor on an annual basis for their physical exam. Sometimes, hepatitis will show up in blood work even though people may still feel okay.
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Some of the most common signs and symptoms of hepatitis include:
- Some individuals develop pain underneath the right side of the rib cage, which is where the liver is located
- Some individuals will develop jaundice, which usually shows up in the eyes before it appears in the skin
- Individuals may also develop high, spiking fevers
- It is not unusual for people to experience changes in their bathroom habits
- Sometimes, individuals notice a shift and the color of their stool to a black or grey color
- Fatigue is also common with hepatitis
- Easy bruising or bleeding is also common in certain types of hepatitis
- Swelling of certain parts of the body, including the feet, ankles, and legs, is common
What Are The Treatment Guidelines For Hepatitis C
Hepatitis C treatment is best discussed with a doctor or specialist familiar with current and developing options as this field is changing, and even major guidelines may become outdated quickly.
The latest treatment guidelines by the American Association for the Study of Liver Disease and Infectious Disease Society of America recommends use of DAAs as first-line treatment for hepatitis C infection. The choice of DAA varies by specific virus genotype, and the presence or absence of cirrhosis. In the U.S., specific insurance providers also might influence the choice due to the high cost of DAAs. Although the individual, public health, and cost benefits of treating all patients with hepatitis C is clear, the most difficult barrier to treating all people with HCV is the very high cost of the drug regimens. Patients are encouraged to discuss options with their health care professional.
Treatment is recommended in all patients with chronic hepatitis C unless they have a short life expectancy that is not related to liver disease. Severe life-threatening liver disease may require liver transplantation. Newer therapies with DAAs have allowed more and more patients to be treated.
What are the goals of therapy for hepatitis C infection?
The ultimate goals of antiviral therapy are to
- prevent transmission of hepatitis C,
- prevent progression to cirrhosis and liver cancer, and
- improve survival and quality of life.
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Early Signs Of Hepatitis C
Hepatitis C is not always easy to recognize as it might be asymptomatic in the early stages. Also, chronic hepatitis C is even more challenging to diagnose as compared to acute hepatitis C. So, being mindful of the early warning signs of hepatitis C is extremely important to diagnose the disease at the earliest:
Ignoring these early warning signs of hepatitis C can lead to a more severe stage of liver disease, so one must visit a doctor for early diagnosis and undertake timely treatment if they experience any of these symptoms. Also, regular checkups can help facilitate early diagnosis.
How Is Liver Disease Managed Or Treated
Treatment for liver disease depends on the type of liver disease you have and how far it has progressed. Possible treatments include:
- Medications: Healthcare providers treat some types of liver disease with medication. You may take medicine for viral infections like hepatitis or inherited conditions like Wilson disease.
- Lifestyle changes: You can use your diet to help manage certain types of liver disease. If you have fatty liver disease, avoiding alcohol, limiting fat and calories and increasing fiber intake can help. Alcohol-related liver disease can improve with abstinence from alcohol.
- Liver transplant: When liver disease progresses to liver failure, a liver transplant may be the best treatment option. A transplant replaces your liver with a healthy liver.
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What If I Am Pregnant And I Have Hepatitis C
Hepatitis C can be passed from a mother to her child during pregnancy and during delivery. Per the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention , approximately 6 of every 100 infants born to HCV-infected mothers become infected with the virus. The risk is 2-3 times greater when the mother has HIV as well.
You and your doctor should discuss and decide if you should receive treatment for hepatitis C during your pregnancy.
How Is Hepatitis Diagnosed
Your health care provider will conduct a thorough physical examination and run a series of tests to diagnose hepatitis. Your doctor will also ask about your medical history, drug use, and living standard to identify risk factors and determine whether you have viral hepatitis or non-infectious hepatitis.
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Early Signs Of Liver Disease
Some people will develop symptoms within two weeks to six months after being infected by the hepatitis C virus. This is called an acute infection.
Exposure can take place through contact with infected blood or needles. This sometimes can happen on the job or recreationally.
In general, early signs of hepatitis C are flu-like, mild and fairly nonspecific, meaning that they can be caused by a laundry list of other illnesses and infections. They include fatigue, sore muscles, joint pain, fever, nausea, itchy skin, dark urine, and a yellow discoloration of the skin and whites of the eyes . For most people, acute hepatitis C infection will lead to chronic or long-term infection.
If you notice any of these symptoms and think you may have been exposed to hepatitis C, contact your doctor. A blood test can help determine if these symptoms are, in fact, a result of hepatitis C.
Hepatitis Early Warning Signs And Symptoms
The liver is one of the most important organs in the body. People cannot live without their liver, thus the name. There are numerous illnesses and conditions that can impact the liver. It is the job of the liver to remove toxins from the body. If the liver is not functioning properly, toxins will build up in the bloodstream, leading to serious illnesses. Therefore, it is critical for people to stop some of the early signs of liver damage. This includes hepatitis.
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Hepatitis is a condition that leads to inflammation of the liver. Sometimes, people develop hepatitis due to an autoimmune condition. In other situations, people may develop an infection that leads to hepatitis. If the liver is inflamed, it is not functioning properly. Therefore, toxins could build up in the body. The sooner hepatitis is diagnosed, the faster it can be treated. This can improve someones overall prognosis. What are some of the most common signs and symptoms of hepatitis? Why is it important to diagnose this condition early?
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How Is Hepatitis C Spread
Hepatitis C spreads through contact with the blood of someone who has HCV. This contact may be through
- Sharing drug needles or other drug materials with someone who has HCV. In the United States, this is the most common way that people get hepatitis C.
- Getting an accidental stick with a needle that was used on someone who has HCV. This can happen in health care settings.
- Being tattooed or pierced with tools or inks that were not sterilized after being used on someone who has HCV
- Having contact with the blood or open sores of someone who has HCV
- Sharing personal care items that may have come in contact with another personâs blood, such as razors or toothbrushes
- Being born to a mother with HCV
- Having unprotected sex with someone who has HCV
Before 1992, hepatitis C was also commonly spread through blood transfusions and organ transplants. Since then, there has been routine testing of the U.S. blood supply for HCV. It is now very rare for someone to get HCV this way.
Baby Boomers Are Especially Vulnerable
âThe hepatitis C virus didnât have a name or a screening test until in 1989,â Reau says. âThat means people born between 1945 and 1965, the group referred to as âbaby boomers,â 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.â
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
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Articles On Hepatitis C
Hepatitis C is a sneaky virus. You may not have any symptoms at all. Most people donât. This is one if the reasons, along with treatability now, that all adults are recommended to get tested. Your doctor could check your liver and see only a little damage. You’re usually not diagnosed until they spot a problem with your liver enzymes after a routine blood test.
Treatment Of Patients With Hepatitis C
The physician will consider the best treatment plan according to the stage and condition of the disease, and take any other diseases or illnesses the patient may have into account. The disease can be cured with oral medications. These are designed to get rid of the infection permanently. Response to the medications can be assessed by testing for the virus levels in the blood after treatment is completed. This type of treatment helps not only to improve the patients condition but also to clear the hepatitis C virus from the body and thus prevent cirrhosis and liver cancer.
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What Are The Treatments For Hepatitis C
Treatment for hepatitis C is with antiviral medicines. They can cure the disease in most cases.
If you have acute hepatitis C, your health care provider may wait to see if your infection becomes chronic before starting treatment.
If your hepatitis C causes cirrhosis, you should see a doctor who specializes in liver diseases. Treatments for health problems related to cirrhosis include medicines, surgery, and other medical procedures. If your hepatitis C leads to liver failure or liver cancer, you may need a liver transplant.
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How Do You Prevent Hepatitis C
Researchers have yet to develop a vaccine that prevents hepatitis C .
Just as you might not know you have hepatitis C, other people with the condition may not know they have it, either. But you can take a few key precautions to avoid contracting it:
- Avoid sharing needles.
- When getting piercings or tattoos, check to make sure the piercer or tattoo artist uses only sterile, unopened needles and ink.
- Avoid sharing nail clippers, razors, and toothbrushes.
- Use sterile gloves when caring for someone elses wound.
Since hepatitis C is transmitted through blood, you wont get it by sharing food and drinks with someone who has the condition or by hugging, touching, or holding hands.
Hepatitis C is not commonly transmitted through sexual contact. But using a condom or another barrier method when having sex can always help lower your chances of contracting a sexually transmitted infection.
Keep in mind that you can contract hepatitis C again, even if youve had it already.
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Acute Chronic End And More
Hepatitis C is an infection caused by the hepatitis C virus that leads to liver inflammation. Symptoms can be mild for many years, even while liver damage is taking place. Many people with hepatitis C end up with chronic hepatitis C that can last a lifetime. The consequences of long-term infection include liver damage, liver cancer, and even death.
Early detection and treatment are key for stopping the progression of hepatitis C and avoiding major complications.
Read on to learn how HCV is spread and how the infection progresses.
You can contract HCV through contact with blood or some bodily fluids that contains HCV. Youre at risk of contracting the virus if you:
- come into regular contact with blood
- have had long-term kidney dialysis
- engage in sex with multiple partners without condoms
Mothers with HCV also can pass the virus on to their children during childbirth, but not through breastfeeding.
In most cases, there are no early warning signs. Most people are symptom-free and remain unaware of the infection. Others experience mild symptoms, such as fatigue and loss of appetite, which tend to clear up on their own.
About 15 to 20 percent of people who contract HCV fight it off without treatment or long-term damage to their health.
The acute phase of hepatitis C is the first six months after contracting HCV. Early symptoms may include:
- loss of appetite
- jaundice, or mild yellowing of your skin and eyes
Symptoms may include:
Treatment For Hepatitis C
The goal of treatment is to clear the virus from the body. If you have acute hepatitis C, you probably wont have symptoms, and the virus will clear on its own without treatment. In the case of chronic hepatitis, your doctor may treat the virus with antiviral medication for 12 to 24 weeks.
Until 2011, there were only two drugs available to treat hepatitis C: pegylated interferon and ribavirin . These drugs were often used in combination with each other.
The drugs currently used to treat hepatitis C include:
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Sharing Toothbrushes Scissors And Razors
There’s a potential risk that hepatitis C may be passed on through sharing items such as toothbrushes, razors and scissors, as they can become contaminated with infected blood.
Equipment used by hairdressers, such as scissors and clippers, can pose a risk if it has been contaminated with infected blood and not been sterilised or cleaned between customers. However, most salons operate to high standards, so this risk is low.
What Are The Risk Factors For Hepatitis C
In the United States, having been born between 1945 and 1965, and the use of illicit injection drugs are the two most common factors associated with hepatitis C. Other risk factors include:
- having received blood transfusions prior to 1990,
- hemodialysis, and
- having greater than 10-lifetime sex partners.
Population studies show that hepatitis C is more common among males, non-Hispanic blacks, those with low income, and those with less than a high school education.
People who have HIV/AIDS have an increased risk for hepatitis C, because both these diseases are transmitted in the same ways, through blood and body fluids. If someone has both infections, that person is said to be co-infected with HIV and HCV.
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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, 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.
What Is Liver Disease
Your liver is your bodys second-largest organ . It sits just under your ribcage on the right side and is about the size of a football. The liver separates nutrients and waste as they move through your digestive system. It also produces bile, a substance that carries toxins out of your body and aids in digestion.
The term liver disease refers to any of several conditions that can affect and damage your liver. Over time, liver disease can cause cirrhosis . As more scar tissue replaces healthy liver tissue, the liver can no longer function properly. Left untreated, liver disease can lead to liver failure and liver cancer.
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