How Does Hepatitis Affect The Body
Typically, symptoms for all types of hepatitis occur once the infection begins causing damage to the liver. In acute cases, symptoms develop quickly and in chronic instances, signs may take up to 6 months to begin showing concern.
General signs and symptoms for acute and chronic hepatitis
All hepatitis types will have the following signs and symptoms in common:
- Flu-like symptoms
- Abdominal pain
- Loss of appetite and unexplained weight loss
- Dark urine
Other signs and symptoms for hepatitis A
- Muscle aches
- Clay-coloured stools
Other signs and symptoms for hepatitis B and D
- Abdominal discomfort
- Tan-coloured stools
All symptom for hepatitis B must be assessed and treated by a medical professional as quickly as possible to prevent an infection developing into HDV and further health complications. If you are exposed to the virus and can seek treatment within the first 24 hours following exposure, an infection can be prevented with prompt medical attention.
A HDV infection may not always display obvious symptoms but when they do, they are very similar to those of hepatitis B. Symptoms of HDV can often make those of HBV worse, which can make diagnosis a little trickier.
Other signs and symptoms for hepatitis C
- Abdominal discomfort
- Itching skin
If there are already signs of damage to your liver, you will display the following symptoms:
Other signs and symptoms for hepatitis E
- Liver enlargement
- Nausea and vomiting
Non-viral hepatitis signs and symptoms
What Is Hepatitis A
The virus may cause a mild illness with few symptoms, or it may cause a person to feel seriously ill. Symptoms often include nausea, pain in upper right quadrant of the abdomen, fever, joint pain, loss of appetite, and jaundice. Some people feel better after a very short illness, while others may stay extremely ill for many weeks.
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How Will I Know If My Treatment Works
The goal of treatment is to reduce the amount of the hepatitis C virus in your blood to levels that cant be detected after 24 weeks of therapy. The amount of the virus in your blood is called your viral load. At the end of your treatment, your doctor will need to measure your viral load and find out how healthy your liver is. He or she may repeat many of the same tests that were done when you were first diagnosed with hepatitis C.
If your blood has so few copies of the virus that tests cant measure them, the virus is said to be undetectable. If it stays undetectable for at least 6 months after your treatment is finished, you have what is called a sustained virologic response . People who have an SVR have a good chance of avoiding serious liver problems in the future.
Treatment may not reduce your viral load. You may not have an SVR after treatment. If thats true, your doctor will discuss other treatment options with you. For example, if 1 round of treatment did not decrease your viral load enough, your doctor may recommend a second round. Even if treatment doesnt keep you from having active liver disease, lowering your viral load and controlling chronic liver inflammation may help you feel better for a longer time.
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How Is It Treated
Hepatitis A is treated using supportive methods. These can include things like rest, fluids, and healthy foods. Medications can also help to ease some symptoms like fever, aches, and pains.
Theres a vaccine available to protect against infection with HAV. This is typically recommended for children as well as for people at an increased risk for contracting the virus.
Also, receiving a single dose of the hepatitis A vaccine may prevent you from becoming ill if youve been exposed to HAV. For it to be effective, the vaccine needs to be given of exposure.
Is Liver Transplantation An Option For A Person With Hepatitis C
Hepatitis C is the leading reason for 40% to 45% of liver transplants in the U.S. Hepatitis C usually recurs after transplantation and infects the new liver. Approximately 25% of these patients with recurrent hepatitis will develop cirrhosis within five years of transplantation. Despite this, the five-year survival rate for patients with hepatitis C is similar to that of patients who are transplanted for other types of liver disease.
Most transplant centers delay therapy until recurrent hepatitis C in the transplanted liver is confirmed. Oral, highly effective, direct-acting antivirals have shown encouraging results in patients who have undergone liver transplantation for hepatitis C infection and have recurrent hepatitis C. The choice of therapy needs to be individualized and is rapidly evolving.
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How Do You Get Hepatitis C
Hepatitis C spreads when blood or body fluids contaminated with the hepatitis C virus get into your bloodstream through contact with an infected person.
You can be exposed to the virus from:
- Sharing injection drugs and needles
- Having sex, especially if you have HIV, another STD, several partners, or have rough sex
- Being stuck by infected needles
- Birth a mother can pass it to a child
- Sharing personal care items like toothbrushes, razor blades, and nail clippers
- Getting a tattoo or piercing with unclean equipment
You canât catch hepatitis C through:
- Have been on long-term kidney dialysis
- Have abnormal liver tests or liver disease
- Have HIV
- Were born to a mother with hepatitis C
Since July 1992, all blood and organ donations in the U.S. are tested for the hepatitis C virus. The CDC says it is now rare that someone getting blood products or an organ would get hepatitis C. That said, The CDC recommends that anyone over the age of 18 get tested for Hepatitis C. If you havent been screened, you should consider having it done.
Learn more about the risk factors for hepatitis C.
What Are The Types Of Hepatitis C Infection
There are two types of hepatitis C infection:
- Acute: a short-term infection that occurs within 6 months after a person is exposed to the virus. However, about 75 to 85 percent of people with the acute form go on to develop the chronic form.
- Chronic: a long-term illness that can continue throughout a persons life. It can lead to cirrhosis of the liver and other serious problems, such as liver failure or cancer. About 15,000 people a year die from liver disease associated with hepatitis C.
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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.
How Do You Know If You Have Hepatitis C
A simple blood test can easily identify the presence of HCV antibodies in your bloodstream. If these antibodies are present, then it means that you have been exposed to the virus in recent times. If the first blood test confirms the presence of HCV antibodies, then your doctor will schedule another blood test to confirm that you have an HCV infection.
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Side Effects Of Therapy
Historically, one of the greatest concerns for those seeking treatment for hepatitis C was the side effect profile of the medications used. This should no longer be the case. Current therapies are extremely well tolerated, typically with only mild side effects that most commonly include fatigue, nausea, and/or headache. Some patients experience no side effects at all.
Other medications may interact with hepatitis C medications, so patients should discuss any new medications with their healthcare providers.
Who Is At High Risk And Should Be Tested For Hepatitis C Infection
The U.S. Preventive Health Services task force recommends that all adults born between 1945 and 1965 be tested once routinely for hepatitis C, regardless of whether risk factors for hepatitis C are present. One-time testing also is recommended for:
- People who currently inject drugs or snort drugs, or ever did so, even once many years previously
- People with persistently elevated alanine aminotransferase level, a liver enzyme found in blood
- People who have HIV infection
- Children born to HCV- or HIV-infected mothers
- People who were ever on long-term hemodialysis
- People who got a tattoo in an unregulated setting, such as prison or by an unlicensed person
- People who received clotting factor produced before 1987
- People who received transfusions or organ transplants before July 1992, or who were notified that they received blood from a donor who later tested positive for hepatitis C infection
- Health care, emergency medical, and public safety workers after a needlestick, eye or mouth exposure to hepatitis C-infected blood
People who may have been exposed to hepatitis C in the previous 6 months should be tested for viral RNA load rather than anti-HCV antibody, because antibody may not be present for up to 12 weeks or longer after infection, although HCV RNA may be detectable in blood as soon as 2-3 weeks after infection.
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How To Protect Yourself Against Hepatitis A
There is an effective vaccine against hepatitis A that is recommended for all children at age 1. However, most adults probably have not received it because the vaccine wasnt required when they were young. Dr. Fried says you can come in contact with the hepatitis A infection pretty much anywhere, so its a good idea for everyone older than 1 to get the vaccine, whether or not theyve had any known exposure or traveled to regions where hepatitis A is common.
In addition to getting vaccinated, you should wash your hands every time you go to the bathroom and before handling or serving food or drinks. Also be sure to wash and rinse raw produce before eating or serving it. Cooking raw produce further reduces the risk of infection.
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General Symptoms Of Liver Diseases
Liver disease symptoms may be present with hepatitis, cirrhosis, or any other conditions that result in dysfunction of or damage to the liver. These may include:
More symptoms of acute hepatitis are possible, including bleeding gums, edema in your legs, sleep reversal and other sleep disorders, and loss of consciousness.
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Blood And Vessel Problems
People with hepatitis C often get a condition called cryoglobulinemia. This happens when certain proteins in your blood stick together in cold weather. They can build up in vessels and block blood flow, which causes swelling and damage. The condition can affect your skin, organs, nerves, and joints.
Hepatitis C also can cause problems with blood itself. You may not make enough white blood cells, which fight infections, or platelets, which help your blood clot.
The infection can also make you bruise easily or get red or purple spots under your skin. Those are signs of a bleeding disorder called immune thrombocytopenic purpura.
What Is Hepatitis C Infection How Many People Are Infected
Hepatitis C virus infection is an infection of the liver caused by the hepatitis C virus . It is difficult for the human immune system to eliminate hepatitis C from the body, and infection with hepatitis C usually becomes chronic. Over decades, chronic infection with hepatitis C damages the liver and can cause liver failure. In the U.S., the CDC has estimated that approximately 41,200 new cases of hepatitis C occurred in 2016. When the virus first enters the body there usually are no symptoms, so this number is an estimate. About 75%-85% of newly infected people become chronically infected. In the U.S., more than 2 million people are estimated to be chronically infected with hepatitis C. Infection is most commonly detected among people who are 40 to 60 years of age, reflecting the high rates of infection in the 1970s and 1980s. There are 8,000 to 10,000 deaths each year in the U.S. related to hepatitis C infection. HCV infection is the leading cause of liver transplantation in the U.S. and is a risk factor for liver cancer. In 2016, 18,153 death certificates listed HCV as a contributing cause of death this is believed to be an underestimate.
Those who have cirrhosis from HCV also have a yearly risk of liver cancer of about 1%-5%.
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What Happens During A Percutaneous Biopsy
Before this medical procedure, a doctor will explain what is going to happen and talk about any risks involved. A person needing a liver biopsy should tell the doctor about any prescribed and over-the-counter medicines or supplements they are taking, as they may need to stop taking them before the procedure.
For the procedure itself, the person lies face-up on the bed, with their right arm above their head. After administering a local anesthetic to the appropriate area, the doctor will make a small cut to the skin and insert the biopsy needle.
Doctors take the tissue sample as the person exhales. So the doctor may ask them to breathe out and hold their breath.
Once the doctor removes the needle, they apply pressure to the wound and ask the person to lie on their right-hand side for up to 2 hours. Medical staff will continue to monitor the person and check for signs of bleeding for at least another 2 hours.
Your Skin And Eyes Are Yellow
Bile contains a yellowish waste product called bilirubin, which naturally forms when old red blood cells break down. Normally, the liver helps filter out bilirubin so it can be excreted when you go to the bathroom. But when you have cirrhosis, it isnt properly removed and instead, bilirubin levels in the blood increase, Dr. Khaderi explains. This can cause jaundice, a condition where the skin and eyes take on a yellow tinge.
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Who Is At Risk For Hepatitis C
You are more likely to get hepatitis C if you
- Have injected drugs
If you have chronic hepatitis C, you probably will not have symptoms until it causes complications. This can happen decades after you were infected. For this reason, hepatitis C screening is important, even if you have no symptoms.
Should I Be Screened For Hepatitis B
Screening is testing for a disease in people who have no symptoms. Doctors use blood tests to screen for hepatitis B. Many people who have hepatitis B dont have symptoms and dont know they are infected with hepatitis B. Screening tests can help doctors diagnose and treat hepatitis B, which can lower your chances of developing serious health problems.
Your doctor may recommend screening for hepatitis B if you9,14
- are pregnant
- were born in an area of the world where 2 percent or more of the population has hepatitis B infection, which includes Africa, Asia, and parts of the Middle East, Eastern Europe, and South America
- didnt receive the hepatitis B vaccine as an infant and have parents who were born in an area where 8 percent or more of the population had hepatitis B infection, which includes sub-Saharan Africa and parts of Asia
- are HIV-positive
- are a man who has sex with men
- have lived with or had sex with a person who has hepatitis B
- have an increased chance of infection due to other factors
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How Can I Cover Medication Costs
New therapies called direct-acting antivirals are effective and can achieve cures of over 90%. Because these new therapies are very new, they remain very expensive. As such, drug coverage from both government and private companies may require that your liver disease has progressed to a certain stage before they are willing to cover the cost of these drugs.
Talk with your healthcare provider about financial support that may be available.
Below are useful resources when looking for financial assistance:Private health insurance or drug plansIf you have private health insurance or a drug plan at work, you may be able to have the medication paid through your plan. Please consult your private health insurance or drug plan provider to see if your drug is covered.
Publicly funded plansEach provincial and territorial government offers a drug benefit plan for eligible groups. Some are income-based universal programs. Most have specific programs for population groups that may require more enhanced coverage for high drug costs. These groups include seniors, recipients of social assistance, and individuals with diseases or conditions that are associated with high drug costs. For more details, please contact your provincial or territorial health care ministry, or click on the appropriate link below.
Available Patient Assistance Programs for Hepatitis C treatment Holkira Pak Maviret
MerckCare Hepatitis C Program 1 872-5773 Zepatier