What Is Autoimmune Hepatitis
The liver is a large organ that sits up under your ribs on the right side of your belly . It helps filter waste from your body, makes bile to help digest food, and stores sugar that your body uses for energy. Autoimmune hepatitis occurs when your bodys infection-fighting system attacks your liver cells. This causes swelling, inflammation and liver damage.
It is a long-term or chronic inflammatory liver disease.
- May occur at any age
- Affects women more than men
- Is often linked to other diseases where the body attacks itself
Adults Living With Hepatitis B
If you test positive for the hepatitis B virus for longer than 6 months, this indicates that you have a chronic hepatitis B infection.
All patients with chronic hepatitis B infections, including children and adults, should be monitored regularly since they are at increased risk for developing cirrhosis, liver failure, or liver cancer.
You should make an appointment with a hepatologist or gastroenterologist familiar with hepatitis B. This specialist will order blood tests and possibly a liver ultrasound to evaluate your hepatitis B status and the health of your liver. Your doctor will probably want to see you at least once or twice a year to monitor your hepatitis B and determine if you would benefit from treatment.
Not everyone who tests positive for hepatitis B will require medication. Depending on your test results, you and your doctor might decide to wait and monitor your condition. If your test results indicate that you would be a good candidate for treatment, then your doctor will discuss the current treatment options with you. Whether you start treatment or not, your doctor will want to see you every six months, or at minimum once every year.
Before you start any treatment, make sure you research each treatment option, and ask your doctor to thoroughly explain each option, so that you are well informed. It also might be a good idea to get a second opinion from another doctor before starting any treatment, because more information is always better!
What Causes Autoimmune Hepatitis
Experts dont know what causes autoimmune hepatitis, but it is more likely to show up in people with other autoimmune conditions, including:
- Fluid buildup in the belly
- Rectal bleeding or vomiting blood
The symptoms of autoimmune hepatitis may look like other health problems. Always see your healthcare provider for a diagnosis.
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Spread Of Hepatitis C
Hepatitis C is spread through blood-to-blood contact when blood from a person with hepatitis C enters another persons bloodstream.
The most common way people become infected with hepatitis C in Australia is by sharing injecting equipment such as needles, syringes, spoons and tourniquets. It is possible to be infected with hepatitis C after only one risk event.
Hepatitis C may also be spread through:
- tattooing and body piercing with equipment that has not been properly cleaned, disinfected or sterilised such as backyard tattoos’. Registered parlours with appropriate infection control procedures are not a risk
- needlestick injuries in a healthcare setting
- receiving blood transfusions in Australia prior to 1990 before hepatitis C virus testing of blood donations was introduced
- medical procedures, blood transfusions or blood products and mass immunisation programs provided in a country other than Australia
- pregnancy or childbirth there is a 5% chance of a mother with chronic hepatitis C infection passing on the virus to her baby during pregnancy or childbirth.
Breastfeeding is safe, however if nipples are cracked or bleeding cease breastfeeding until they have healed.
Less likely possible routes of transmission of hepatitis C include:
Hepatitis C cannot be transmitted by:
- sharing food, cups or cutlery
- shaking hands or day-to-day physical contact.
How Long Can I Live With Alcoholic Liver Disease
Robert Burakoff, MD, MPH, is board-certified in gastroentrology. He is the vice chair for ambulatory services for the department of medicine at Weill Cornell Medical College in New York, where he is also a professor. He was the founding editor and co-editor in chief of Inflammatory Bowel Diseases.
A diagnosis of alcoholic liver disease may leave you wondering how long you have to live. The reality is that it’s different for every person and it’s something that is best discussed with your healthcare provider. Protocols are used to give an individual prognosis based on your physical condition, test results, and severity of symptoms.
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Treatments For Hepatitis C
Hepatitis C can be treated with medicines that stop the virus multiplying inside the body. These usually need to be taken for several weeks.
Until recently, most people would have taken 2 main medicines called pegylated interferon and ribavirin .
Tablet-only treatments are now available.
These new hepatitis C medicines have been found to make treatment more effective, are easier to tolerate, and have shorter treatment courses.
They include simeprevir, sofosbuvir and daclatasvir.
Using the latest medications, more than 90% of people with hepatitis C may be cured.
But it’s important to be aware that you will not be immune to the infection and should take steps to reduce your risk of becoming infected again.
Symptoms And Warning Signs
If you’re concerned that you have alcoholic liver disease, see a medical professional as soon as possible. Which symptoms you have and how severe they are, depends on a variety of factors, including pre-existing conditions and the progression of the disease.
In the early stages of alcoholic liver disease, you may not have any symptoms at all. Additionally, symptoms seem to worsen after a period of heavy drinking. The three main categories of symptoms are:
- Digestive problems: Including abdominal swelling, dry mouth, and bleeding from enlarged esophageal veins
- Dermatological issues: Including yellowing of the skin, red spider-like veins, and redness on your feet
- Brain and nervous system abnormalities: Including memory problems, numbness in extremities, and fainting
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Getting Tested For Hepatitis C
Seek medical advice if you have persistent symptoms of hepatitis C or there’s a risk you’re infected, even if you do not have any symptoms.
A blood test can be carried out to see if you have the infection.
GPs, sexual health clinics, genitourinary medicine clinics or drug treatment services all offer testing for hepatitis C.
Early diagnosis and treatment can help prevent or limit any damage to your liver, as well as help ensure the infection is not passed on to other people.
What Should I Know About Post
Its a good idea to avoid drugs containing high doses of acetaminophen if you have more extensive fibrosis. Excessive amounts of acetaminophen are known to cause severe liver damage since your liver is already compromised, theres no reason to raise your risk higher.
Also make sure to let any new doctors know about your prior HCV infection, including those at urgent care facilities or the emergency room, so they can choose drugs that dont add a toxic burden to your liver, Dr. Terrault says.
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Should I Be Screened For Hepatitis C
Doctors usually recommend one-time screening of all adults ages 18 to 79 for hepatitis C. Screening is testing for a disease in people who have no symptoms. Doctors use blood tests to screen for hepatitis C. Many people who have hepatitis C dont have symptoms and dont know they have hepatitis C. Screening tests can help doctors diagnose and treat hepatitis C before it causes serious health problems.
When You Do Not Need To Self
If someone you live with has symptoms of COVID-19, or has tested positive for COVID-19, you will not need to self-isolate if any of the following apply:
- you’re fully vaccinated this means 14 days have passed since your final dose of a COVID-19 vaccine given by the NHS
- you’re under 18 years, 6 months old
- you’re taking part or have taken part in a COVID-19 vaccine trial
- you’re not able to get vaccinated for medical reasons
Even if you do not have symptoms, you should still:
- consider limiting contact with people who are at higher risk from COVID-19
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It’s Different Than Hepatitis A And B
Each form of hepatitis has its own specific virus that spreads and is treated differently. “Hepatitis simply means inflammation of the liver, or that the virus has an affinity for hurting the liver,” Reau says.
- Hepatitis A is an acute, short-term infection that often does not require treatment.
- Hepatitis B hides deep in the body and, like hepatitis C, is treated in a variety of ways, from antiviral medications to liver transplants.
“The viruses are different, but all of them should be taken very seriously since they can lead to significant liver disease and even death,” she adds.
Who Should Get Tested
You should consider getting tested for hepatitis C if you’re worried you could have been infected or you fall into one of the groups at an increased risk of being infected.
- Hepatitis C often has no symptoms, so you may still be infected if you feel healthy.
- The following groups of people are at an increased risk of hepatitis C:
- ex-drug users and current drug users, particularly users of injected drugs
- people who received blood transfusions before September 1991
- recipients of organ or tissue transplants before 1992
- people who have lived or had medical treatment in an area where hepatitis C is common high risk areas include North Africa, the Middle East and Central and East Asia
- babies and children whose mothers have hepatitis C
- anyone accidentally exposed to the virus, such as health workers
- people who have received a tattoo or piercing where equipment may not have been properly sterilised
- sexual partners of people with hepatitis C
If you continue to engage in high-risk activities, such as injecting drugs frequently, regular testing may be recommended. Your doctor will be able to advise you about this.
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Tests For Liver Problems
To check how well your liver is working, you may have:
- Liver function tests. These are blood tests that can help your doctor find out if you have liver damage.
- A liver biopsy. The doctor puts a needle in the liver to find out whether the virus has caused scarring or damage to your liver.
- Imaging tests such as a CT scan, an MRI, or an ultrasound to make sure that you don’t have liver cancer.
Hepatitis C And Liver Cancer: What To Know
Several viruses besides HPV have been linked to cancer, includinghepatitis C, which is linked to liver cancer.
If you think HPV is the only virus that causes cancer, think again. Several other viruses have been linked to cancer, including hepatitis C.
Hepatitis C is the most common blood-borne infection in the United States. Its also the leading cause of liver cancer.
About 30 percent of people who get exposed to the hepatitis C virus will clear it on their own. The rest will go on to have chronic hepatitis C.
This ongoing infection causes inflammation in the liver. This extended inflammation can cause scarring, called cirrhosis, and can ultimately lead to liver cancer.
Chronic hepatitis C also increases the risk of non-Hodgkin lymphoma and head and neck cancers.
Unlike hepatitis A and B, there is no vaccine against hepatitis C, and there are few if any symptoms, says Harrys Torres, M.D., associate professor of Infectious Diseases.
Its a silent infection, he says. And its a very clever virus that mutates very fast, so it has been difficult to develop a vaccine.
Knowing the risk factors and getting screened are your best defenses against cancers caused by hepatitis C. Treatment of this virus can reduce your risk of liver cancer by 75%.
About 75% of those infected with hepatitis C in the United States are baby boomers people born between 1945 and 1965.
Other risk factors for hepatitis C infection include:
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What Causes Hepatitis C Infection
Hepatitis C is caused by the hepatitis C virus. It is spread by contact with an infected person’s blood.
You can get hepatitis C if:
- You share needles and other equipment used to inject illegal drugs.
- You had a blood transfusion or organ transplant before 1992. Since the early 1990s, all donated blood and organs are screened for hepatitis C in Canada.
- You get a shot with a needle that has infected blood on it. This happens in some developing countries where they use needles more than once when giving shots.
- You get a tattoo or a piercing with a needle that has infected blood on it. This can happen if equipment isn’t cleaned properly after it is used.
In rare cases, a mother with hepatitis C may spread the virus to her baby during pregnancy or childbirth, or a health care worker may be accidentally exposed to blood that is infected with hepatitis C.
The risk of getting hepatitis C through sexual contact is very small.footnote 1 The risk is higher if you have many sex partners or you engage in unprotected sexual activity that may involve contact with blood or an exchange of blood with an infected person . The presence of HIV or other sexually transmitted infections also increases the chances of getting hepatitis C sexually.
You cannot get hepatitis C from casual contact such as hugging, kissing, sneezing, coughing, or sharing food or drink.
What Are The Symptoms Of Hepatitis C Virus Infection
Most people who have HCV infection will feel well and have no symptoms. They may not know that they have been exposed to the virus. Some people may have a brief illness with symptoms appearing around 6 weeks after they have been infected with the virus. You need a blood test to see if you have the infection.
Symptoms of acute HCV infection may include:
- Nausea and vomiting
About 75% of people with HCV infection will develop a chronic infection. People with chronic HCV infection may feel tired or have a low mood or stomach pain. They may pass the virus on to other people.
Without treatment, some people with chronic HCV infection will develop scarring of the liver over decades. Cirrhosis can lead to liver failure or liver cancer in a small number of people.
For more information on assessing your risk, see HealthLinkBC File #40a Hepatitis C Virus Infection.
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Life Expectancy Among Patients With Chronic Hepatitis C Virus Infection Cirrhosis
- JAMA – Journal of the American Medical Association
- Patients with chronic hepatitis C virus infection and advanced fibrosis or cirrhosis who attained sustained virological response had survival comparable with that of the general population, whereas patients who did not attain SVR had reduced survival, according to a study.
Patients with chronic hepatitis C virus infection and advanced fibrosis or cirrhosis who attained sustained virological response had survival comparable with that of the general population, whereas patients who did not attain SVR had reduced survival, according to a study in the November 12 issue of JAMA.
Almost three million people in the United States are chronically infected with the hepatitis C virus . The life expectancy of patients with chronic HCV infection is reduced compared with the general population, largely attributable to the development of cirrhosis, liver failure and cancer. Studies have shown that the risk of all-cause death is lower among patients with chronic HCV infection and advanced hepatic fibrosis if sustained virological response is attained, but comparisons have been limited to those without SVR, according to background information in the article.
Is There A Cure Or A Vaccine For Hepatitis C
Yes. Hepatitis C infection is curable. Newer, highly effective drugs to treat HCV are covered by BC PharmaCare. These drugs have few side effects and are easier to take than older medications. In 8 to 12 weeks most patients can be cured of their HCV infection.
It is possible to get infected with HCV again after getting cured, so it is very important to continue to stay healthy after getting cured of your HCV infection.
If you have chronic HCV infection, you should see your health care provider regularly. During these visits, you may have physical exams and other tests to see how healthy your liver is. You may also be referred to a specialist for further testing. Early treatment can prevent very serious liver disease, liver cancer or the need for a liver transplant.
There is no vaccine to prevent HCV infection.
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Is It True That If You Get A Piercing Or Tattoo Youll Get Hepatitis C
Even licensed, commercial tattoo studios can have spotty hygiene and cleaning practices. If the equipment the tattoo artist or piercer uses is clean and sterile, you dont have an increased risk of getting hepatitis C.
If the equipment looks less then pristine or you have any hesitations after meeting with the artist, reconsider your choice, and look for a more sterile alternative.
very rare . This statistic is based on heterosexual partners in monogamous sexual relationships.
Your risk for contracting hepatitis C through a sexual encounter is higher if you have multiple partners, engage in rough sex, or already have an STD.
Today, most people are infected with hepatitis C after sharing dirty needles or other paraphernalia for drug use. In rare cases, you can contract hepatitis C by using a tool that has an infected persons blood on it, such as toothbrushes and razors.
Treatment For Alcoholic Liver Disease
If you haven’t reached the cirrhosis stage yet, the liver damage may heal if you stop drinking alcohol. Those who are alcohol dependent may require professional treatment to break their addiction.
If you have cirrhosis, your healthcare provider will discuss how to manage your specific complications. Some patients at this late stage will require a liver transplant.
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