What Causes Hepatitis C
Because HCV infection usually produces no symptoms or very mild symptoms during the early stages, many people dont know they have it until liver damage shows up sometimes decades later during routine medical tests. Some people who get HCV have it for a short time and then get better on their own. This is called acute Hepatitis C. But most people will go on to develop chronic Hepatitis C, meaning it doesnt go away.
Whereas Hepatitis A generally gives rise to acute hepatitis, Hepatitis C results in chronic hepatitis in most patients. An easy reminder is C for chronic in Hepatitis C and A for acute in Hepatitis A.
You Will Develop Severe Symptoms If Left Untreated
While hepatitis C infection can start off silently, untreated hepatitis C comes out roaring. Some people will develop symptoms down the road including tiredness, nausea and vomiting, stomachache, and occasionally yellow eyes and skin, dark urine, and light-colored stools. These nuisance-like symptoms can seriously damage your quality of life. And hepatitis C doesnt stop there. Left untreated, it will progress and cause more serious and potentially fatal liver disease.
Is It Safe To Take Aspirin Or Tylenol If I Have Hepatitis C
Tylenol is an over-the-counter pain killer. It can be harmful in high doses. If you have hepatitis or liver disease, then you can take Tylenol, but no more than 2,000 mg total over 24 hours. In general, this could be one 500 mg tablet every 6 hours, at the most. Acetaminophen is also included as an ingredient in some opiate medications and in some over-the-counter cold/flu medications, so please be aware of the dose of acetaminophen you may be taking from some combination medicines.
Aspirin, ibuprofen , naproxen , and other nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs , can be harmful if you have cirrhosis. They are safe in hepatitis patients who do not have cirrhosis. But, if a patient has cirrhosis, then NSAIDs cannot be taken at all. If you are not sure, always check with your provider.
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How Do I Tell Someone I Have Hepatitis C
Informing someone that you have hepatitis C can be hard. Most people know little about this disease. You can start with how you found out about your diagnosis. It helps to be prepared with educational materials on HCV, and to be aware of the ways that people can and cannot be infected. For example, it is very rare for HCV to be transmitted during sex. Be sure to tell anyone who may be directly affected, such as:
You may want to encourage others to be tested for HCV if they have similar risk factors.
How Is Hepatitis C Spread
Hepatitis C is spread person-to-person usually by direct contact with another persons blood who is infected with hepatitis C virus. Individuals that share needles are at a high risk to become infected. Surgical and other instruments that are not properly decontaminated can also spread hepatitis C to others. Moreover, some patients that receive organ transplants from individuals that have the virus, but no symptoms, can transmit the disease to the organ transplant recipient.
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How Hcv Is Spread
The hepatitis C virus is transmitted primarily through blood to blood contact, meaning that a person can become infected with the virus should the blood of a person who carries the virus be introduced into another persons bloodstream.
Therefore, as with hepatitis B, blood transfusions , tattooing and body piercing, occupational exposure, medical procedures, and intravenous drug use can all lead to possible exposure to the virus. Unlike hepatitis B, however, sexual contact and childbirth have both been shown to be an inefficient route of exposure to HCV.
The hepatitis G virus is thought to be transmitted in a similar way to HCV.
What Are Genotypes And What Do They Mean
Viruses have genes, too. The genotype of virus you have can be one of six different groups, or genotypes. Most patients with hepatitis C in the United States have genotype 1a or 1b, but in other parts of the world, other genotypes are more common.
There isn’t a “better” or “worse” genotype to have. In the past , genotype 1 was the most difficult to successfully cure but this is no longer the case. All the new direct-acting antiviral medicines work extremely well in treating all genotypes. Sometimes genotype 3 is a little harder to cure, but in general, all genotypes now have extremely high likelihoods of being cured with hepatitis C treatment.
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Symptoms Of Hepatitis C
Many people with hepatitis C dont know they have it until several months to years after transmission. Symptoms may not materialize until six months or longer after initial infection.
If the infections left untreated, the following symptoms may develop:
of catching and spreading hepatitis C. Getting a tattoo with improperly cleaned needles can also spread the infection.
Other people who are at greater risk include those who:
- have received blood or blood products before 1987
- have received a donor organ or hemodialysis for kidney failure
Theres no vaccine for hepatitis C, so the best way to prevent it is avoiding any situations in which you can come into contact with someones blood, such as:
- Sharing needles. Avoid this practice and be careful when disposing of used ones.
- Sharing personal items. Avoid sharing your toothbrush, razor, or nail clippers with someone with HCV.
- Seeing your healthcare provider. Make sure that healthcare professionals wear a new set of gloves before they examine you.
- Sexual activity. Use a condom if you arent in a monogamous relationship and have multiple sexual partners.
- Getting a tattoo. Be sure your tattoo artist uses instruments from a sealed package. This indicates that theyve been sterilized.
Articles On Hepatitis C
If you’ve 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 you’ve 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.
It’s important to remember that hepatitis C isn’t easy to catch. If you take a few precautions, it’s almost impossible to pass on the disease to someone else.
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What About Sex And Hepatitis C
Hepatitis C can be spread through sexual intercourse, but the risk is considered to be low. It is extremely rare among monogamous couples, meaning couples who only have sex with one another. The risk increases if you:
- Have multiple sex partners
- Have a sexually transmitted disease
- Are infected with HIV
There is no evidence that Hepatitis C is spread by oral sex.
To reduce the chance of getting or giving Hepatitis C through sexual contact, follow these guidelines:
- Use latex condoms every time you have sex, particularly if you have:
- More than one partner
- Rough sex that might make one of you bleed
- Sex during your or your partners menstrual period
- Sex when you or your partner has an open sore on either of your genitals
Who Can Be Treated For Hepatitis C
Treatment decisions should be made by both you and your provider. Current treatments for hepatitis C are very successful and can cure most people of the virus.
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Baby Boomers Are Especially Vulnerable
“The hepatitis C virus didn’t 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
Its More Important Than Ever To Keep Your Weight In Check
The second biggest contributor to liver damage is fatty liver disease, which can be a result of being overweight, says Massoud. So if hepatitis C has already lead to cirrhosis or damage to your liver, its especially important to keep your weight in check.
Try to eat healthy whenever possible: Fill up on vegetables, while cutting back on sugar and junk food, says Massoud. Eating a balanced diet will not only keep your weight down but can also improve your overall health. If you need help shoring up your diet, ask your primary care doctor or hepatologist to refer you to a nutritionist who has experience working with people who have liver diseases.
Additional reporting by Colleen de Bellefonds
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Can I Get Reinfected With Hepatitis C
If you become infected with hepatitis C infection and then clear the virus , yes, it is possible for you to become infected again.
The chance of another infection with hepatitis C is much, much less than the chance of a first-time infection, but it is not impossible. It has happened in people who continue to use injection drugs, and some studies suggest that it happens even more often in people who are also HIV positive.
In other words, having had hepatitis C once does not make you “immune” to getting hepatitis C again.
The best way to avoid reinfection is to reduce risky behaviors that can result in exposure to the hepatitis C virus: Do not use injection drugs, do not share needles for any reason, avoid blood-to-blood exposures with others, and use condoms if you are sexually active with a new partner or with a partner who has used injection drugs.
The research in this area is ongoing, and we will continue to learn more about this very important topic. But for now, preventing re-exposure to the hepatitis C virus is the only sure way of avoiding infection and reinfection with hepatitis C.
Biggest Risks Of Not Treating Hepatitis C
You feel 100% fine, yet your doctor just told you that you have hepatitis C.
Confused? You are not alone. About 3.2 million people in the United States have chronic hepatitis C virus infection, and most of them dont have a clue. Like you, they feel and look absolutely fine.
With this as the backdrop, you may be questioning whether to even treat your hepatitis C, but the risks of not treating chronic hepatitis C far outweigh any of these concerns.
There are six big risks you take by not treating your hepatitis C today:
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Prevention: Wash Your Hands Regularly
Another great prevention tip is to always wash your hands regularly. Medical News Today says, HAV can survive for up to 4 hours on the fingertips, so handwashing and safe food practices can help prevent transmission.
Be sure to wash your hands effectively with soap and water before eating, drinking, and after using the bathroom.
How To Prevent Hepatitis B
1. Testing and Vaccination
Since you know that the answer to is hepatitis B contagious is yes, it makes sense to get the vaccine. It is highly effective and safe. It only takes 3 doses during 6 months and protection will last 20 years or your entire life. Experts suggest you get the vaccine if you are traveling somewhere where HBV is common and all children should get it at birth. They also recommend testing for HBV if you have one of the risk factors mentioned above.
2. Perinatal Testing
Certain areas, such as California, require all pregnant women be tested for hepatitis B. If the baby of an infected mother isn’t immunized within several hours of birth, they will be infected. The infection is nearly always prevented if they receive the HBV vaccine and hepatitis B immune globulin immediately. Other members of the family should also be tested and vaccinated.
3. Healthy Lifestyle
What to Do After Exposure to Hepatitis B
If you are exposed to hepatitis B, you can get the vaccine and HBIG as soon as possible. Doing so typically prevents an infection. You should preferably get these medications within 24 hours and it must be within 2 weeks following exposure. Contact your doctor right away if you have been exposed to take preventative action.
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You May Make Your Illness Worse
If you dont treat your hepatitis C, theres a good chance you are not taking other important doctor-recommended steps to keep your liver healthy. This should include monitoring your alcohol intake as well as being careful not to take too much acetaminophen, which is found in more than 600 over-the-counter and prescription medications. Each week, more than 50 million Americans use a medicine that contains acetaminophen. For people with hepatitis C, too much acetaminophen and/or alcohol can further damage an already stressed liver.
You Might Not Know You Have It
Nearly half of people living with hepatitis C dont know they have it. Thats because most people live with the disease for years without feeling sick, or experiencing only minor symptoms such as fatigue. Frequently, the only indication of hepatitis C is an abnormal liver blood test panel. If you think you have been exposed to hepatitis C, be sure to talk to your physician.
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Can Hepatitis C Be Cured
Unlike Hepatitis A and Hepatitis B, a vaccine for Hepatitis C is not available.
However, treatment options are available and Hepatitis C may be cured .
Learn more about your treatment options and speak to your healthcare provider today.
The Hepatitis C virus is considered cured if the virus is not detected in your blood when measured with a blood test 3 months after treatment is completed. This is called a sustained virologic response and data suggest that you will stay virus free indefinitely.
Try to keep yourself as healthy as possible, keep your medical appointments and get regular check-ups. Remember that you could become re-infected if you expose yourself to high-risk situations such as injection drug use, and so do everything possible to avoid these situations. Speak with a substance abuse counselor if needed.
How Do I Get Hepatitis B Treatment
Usually for adults, hepatitis B goes away on its own and you wont need treatment. Your doctor might tell you to rest, eat well, and get plenty of fluids. You may also get medicines to help with any symptoms you might have but be sure to talk with your doctor or nurse before taking anything.
If you have chronic hepatitis, there are medicines you can take to treat it. Your doctor will tell you about your options and help you get whatever treatment you need.
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If You Have Hepatitis C Can You Have Sex Without Infecting Your Partner
Hepatitis C is a virus that is transmitted by blood. The most common ways people become infected with hepatitis C are through needle sharing, such as during injection drug use, or from blood transfusions received before 1992.
Becoming infected from sex is not common, but it does happen. If you have hepatitis C, the chance of infecting a sex partner is higher if you are with a new partner or if you have had many different partners over time. If you have hepatitis C, the chance of infecting a sex partner is lower if you are with a longtime stable partner and if you are in a monogamous relationship.
If your sex partner is new to you, or if you have many different partners, it is safer if you use condoms during sex to reduce the chance of transmitting hepatitis C.
It is always best to talk directly with your health care provider to assess whether you should start using condoms. If you are in a sexual relationship and either you or your partner has hepatitis C, the other partner should be tested for hepatitis C and other sexually transmitted viruses once a year, or as advised by your provider.
You Will Miss Out On A Cure
Over the past decade much has changed regarding hepatitis C treatment and prognosis. Many people are afraid of side effects associated with hepatitis C medications, but todays anti-virals cause far fewer problems than older drugs. Whats more, your doctor can provide easy-to-follow tips on how to manage any that come up during the course of your treatment. Importantly, hepatitis C treatment is not forever and a cure is possible. What are you waiting for?
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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.