Final Word On Hepatitis C Prevention
If left untreated, hepatitis C can cause many complications, such as cirrhosis of the liver, liver damage, and liver failure. But the good news is that hepatitis C is a preventable virus, as long as you take the necessary precautions. If you become infected, starting treatment can improve your liver health and lessen the likelihood of spreading the virus to others.
When To See A Doctor
The good news is recovering from the hepatitis A virus doesnt usually lead to life-threatening complications. An individual can often recover in a few weeks . And after getting it, your body will build immunity to help you from getting it again. So when should you see a doctor?
You should contact your doctor if your symptoms dont go away. It can also be serious for older individuals or those with chronic liver disease, or other health problems. Its also a good idea to contact your doctor to ensure you have the hepatitis A vaccine.
What Is The Prognosis For A Patient Who Has Toxic Hepatitis
The liver has the ability to heal itself by replacing liver cells that are damaged. It may take several weeks or months before any improvement is noted. Many patients make a full recovery. In rare cases, if liver damage is severe or irreversible, the patient may need a liver transplant.
Last reviewed by a Cleveland Clinic medical professional on 08/27/2018.
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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.
Favorite Hep C Support Networks
This site gives a very detailed listing of live hep C support groups in cities across the country. Meetings are often for those undergoing treatment or people who have questions about treatment. A database that searches by ZIP code makes it simple to find a support group near you.
This online support network has about 34,000 members at latest count. People can anonymously post about all concerns related to the disease, including issues about stigma, depression, and care.
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Complications Of Hepatitis C
As we previously mentioned, one of the biggest problems with hepatitis C is that, if it goes untreated, it can lead to some pretty nasty complications that can become life-threatening. Many of the complications associated with the disease are related to the liver.
The Mayo Clinic lists three common complications. The first is scarring of the liver, which is also known as cirrhosis. After 20 to 30 years of hepatitis C infection, cirrhosis may occur. Scarring in your liver makes it difficult for your liver to function, writes the source. The second common complication is liver cancer however this typically only affects a small number of people. The last complication is liver failure which results from advanced liver cirrhosis.
What Causes Toxic Hepatitis
Toxic hepatitis is usually caused by exposure to certain organic chemicals or solvents, certain medications, drugs or alcohol.
Many chemicals and drugs can cause liver damage. However, people respond differently to different medications. Some people may have an adverse reaction to certain drugs and can suffer liver damage, while others may not. Excessive drinking that causes liver damage can make the harmful effects of drug or chemical exposure worse.
Types of toxic hepatitis include:
- Chemical-induced hepatitis: Exposure to toxic chemicals in the workplace, such as organic chemicals and solvents, is a common cause of toxic hepatitis. Exposure can occur through ingesting a chemical, breathing it in, or through contact with the skin.
- Drug-induced hepatitis: Many prescription and over-the-counter medications may cause liver toxicity or hepatitis , including:
- Dark-colored urine
- Fluid in the abdomen
It may take days, weeks or even months for symptoms to appear after exposure to the chemicals or drugs. Symptoms may be similar to those of other liver disorders.
In chronic cases of toxic hepatitis, extensive liver damage, such as cirrhosis may occur. The patient may also develop severe liver failure, which can be life-threatening.
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How Can I Protect Myself Against Viral 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.
- Don’t share needles to take drugs.
- Practice good personal hygiene such as thorough hand-washing with soap and water.
- Don’t use an infected person’s personal items.
- Take precautions when getting any tattoos or body piercings.
- Take precaution when traveling to areas of the world with poor sanitation.
- Drink bottled water when traveling.
It is very important that you take these preventive measures if you participate in risky behaviors. Take preventive steps, too, if you work in places like a nursing homes, dormitories, daycare centers, or restaurants where there you have extended contact with other people and a risk of coming into contact with the disease.
How Is Hepatitis C Infection Prevented
Unfortunately, there is no vaccine to prevent hepatitis C. To reduce your risk of getting hepatitis C:
- Injection drug use is the most common way people get hepatitis C. Avoid injecting drugs to reduce your risk. If you do inject drugs, use sterile injection equipment. Avoid reusing or sharing.
- Avoid sharing personal care items that might have blood on them
- If you are a health care or public safety worker, follow universal blood/body fluid precautions and safely handle needles and other sharps
- Consider the risks if you are thinking about tattooing, body piercing, or acupuncture are the instruments properly sterilized?
- If youre having sex with more than one partner, use latex condoms correctly and every time to prevent the spread of sexually transmitted diseases, including hepatitis C.
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Stages Of Hepatitis C
The hepatitis C virus affects people in different ways and has several stages:
- Incubation period. This is the time between first exposure to the start of the disease. It can last anywhere from 14 to 80 days, but the average is 45
- Acute hepatitis C. This is a short-term illness that lasts for the first 6 months after the virus enters your body. After that, some people who have it will get rid of, or clear, the virus on their own.
- Chronic hepatitis C. For most people who get hepatitis C — up to 85% — the illness moves into a long-lasting stage . This is called a chronic hepatitis C infection and can lead to serious health problems like liver cancer or cirrhosis.
- Cirrhosis. This disease leads to inflammation that, over time, replaces your healthy liver cells with scar tissue. It usually takes about 20 to 30 years for this to happen, though it can be faster if you drink alcohol or have HIV.
- Liver cancer. Cirrhosis makes liver cancer more likely. Your doctor will make sure you get regular tests because there are usually no symptoms in the early stages.
Learn more about the stages and progression of hepatitis C.
Hepatitis C Testing And Diagnosis
Doctors will start by checking your blood for:
Anti-HCV antibodies: These are proteins your body makes when it finds the hep C virus in your blood. They usually show up about 12 weeks after infection.
It usually takes a few days to a week to get results, though a rapid test is available in some places.
The results can be:
- Nonreactive, or negative:
- That may mean you donât have hep C.
- If youâve been exposed in the last 6 months, youâll need to be retested.
If your antibody test is positive, youâll get this test:
HCV RNA: It measures the number of viral RNA particles in your blood. They usually show up 1-2 weeks after youâre infected.
- The results can be:
- Negative: You donât have hep C.
- Positive: You currently have hep C.
You might also get:
Liver function tests: They measure proteins and enzyme levels, which usually rise 7 to 8 weeks after youâre infected. As your liver gets damaged, enzymes leak into your bloodstream. But you can have normal enzyme levels and still have hepatitis C. Learn the reasons why you should get tested for hepatitis C.
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Prevention Of Hepatitis C
There is no vaccine for hepatitis C.
The best way to avoid getting hepatitis C is to reduce your risk factors, such as by:
- Not using intravenous drugs
- Using only sterile injection equipment if you do inject drugs, and not reusing or sharing your equipment
- Not sharing personal care items that might have blood on them, including razors, toothbrushes, and nail clippers
- Safely handling needles and other sharp equipment if you are a healthcare worker
- Not getting a tattoo, body piercing, or acupuncture treatment from an unlicensed practitioner
- Practicing safe sex
Additional Tests You Might Need
Once youve been diagnosed with Hepatitis C, your doctor will likely order a number of tests to find out about the health of your liver and decide on a treatment plan thats most appropriate for you.
Hepatitis C genotype
The Hepatitis C genotype refers to a specific strain or type of the Hepatitis C virus. There are six major types of Hepatitis C around the world: genotypes 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 and 6. In the United States, genotypes 1, 2, and 3 are common:
- Genotype 1: Most Americans with Hepatitis C have this type
- Genotype 2: About 10% of Americans with Hepatitis C have this type
- Genotype 3: About 6% of Americans with Hepatitis C have this type
The genotype of Hepatitis C does not change over time, so you only need to get tested once.
Genotype tests are done before a person starts treatment. Hepatitis C treatment works differently for different genotypes, so knowing your genotype helps your doctor choose the best treatment for you.
Testing for Hepatitis A and Hepatitis B
Your doctor may test to see if your body is immune to Hepatitis A and Hepatitis B. If these tests show no prior exposure or protection, he or she will recommend that you be vaccinated against these two viruses to eliminate the chance of becoming infected.
Liver function tests or liver enzymes
Liver function tests also include ALP and total bilirubin, among other things.
Tests to measure liver scarring or fibrosis
- Liver Biopsy
- Serum markers
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When Is It Ordered
Testing for the presence of IgM antibodies to hepatitis A is ordered when someone has acute symptoms such as:
|Negative||No current or previous HAV infection vaccine may be recommended if at risk|
A total antibody test detects both IgM and IgG antibodies but does not distinguish between them.
If the total antibody test or hepatitis A IgG result is positive and someone has never been vaccinated against HAV, then the person has had past exposure to the virus. About 30% of adults over age 40 have antibodies to hepatitis A.
How Is The Virus Spread
Like hepatitis B virus, hepatitis C virus is spread when blood of an infected person enters the body of a person who is not infected, such as through sharing needles or “works” when shooting drugs or occupational needle stick injury. The risk of sexual transmission has not been thoroughly studied but appears to be low in long-term, monogamous relationships. There is no evidence that the hepatitis C virus can be transmitted by casual contact such as hugging or shaking hands, through foods, by sharing eating utensils or drinking glasses, or by coughing or sneezing. Hepatitis C is not spread by breastmilk.
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What Are The Symptoms And Consequences Of Infection
Approximately 20 percent of persons exposed to the virus develop symptoms which may include jaundice , fatigue, dark-colored urine, stomach pain, loss of appetite and nausea. After the initial infection, 15-25 percent will recover and 75-85 percent will become chronically infected . Approximately 70 percent of persons chronically infected may develop liver disease, sometimes decades after initial infection.
Can You Be A Blood Or Organ Donor
People with hepatitis C cant currently donate blood. The American Red Cross eligibility guidelines prohibit people who have ever tested positive for hepatitis C from donating blood, even if the infection never caused symptoms.
According to the Department of Health and Human Services , information on organ donation, those with underlying medical conditions shouldnt rule themselves out as organ donors. This reflects new guidelines for organ donation announced by the HHS.
People with HCV are now able to be organ donors. This is because advances in testing and medical technology can help the transplant team determine which organs or tissues can be safely used for transplantation.
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Hepatitis C: Symptoms Causes And Treatment
Health Check Certified By: Dr. Gerald Morris
Hepatitis C is a viral infection that causes liver damage. Its spread through contaminated blood. Its estimated that about 3.9 million Americans suffer from the hepatitis C virus , according to WebMD. And even though this disease is now curable if treated with medication, it also unfortunately exhibits very few symptoms, which means people dont realize they have it until more serious damage is done to their bodies.
Related Topics :
Youve probably heard of hepatitis A and B, because we have vaccines to protect ourselves from these infections. Unfortunately, there is no vaccine to protect us from hepatitis C, and the virus is highly contagious, says Healthline. Researchers continue to work towards creating a vaccine.
To stop this virus from spreading and to protect ourselves, we need to get better informed on the topic. This article dives into everything there is to know about hepatitis C, including the symptoms, causes, risk factors, and available treatments.
How Do You Get Hepatitis A
There are a few ways you can get hepatitis A. We already know its typically transmitted by ingesting contaminated food and beverages but how does that happen? For starters, if an individual with the hepatitis A virus prepares your food and you eat the food, you can get the virus.
Further, you can also get it by eating food handled by a place with poor hygiene rules, drinking polluted water, or by coming into contact with hepatitis A-infected fecal matter. Healthline notes, after contracting the virus youll be contagious for 2-weeks before your symptoms even show up. Thankfully, youll stop being contagious about 1-week after your symptoms appear.
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The Abcs Of Hepatitis: Mayo Clinic Expert Explains Types Prevention
Its Hepatitis Awareness Month. Understanding the different forms of hepatitis, who is at risk and how it can be prevented and treated can be confusing. Mayo Clinic infectious diseases expert Stacey Rizza, MD, offers the following primer:
Hepatitis A: A highly contagious viral condition that causes inflammation affecting the livers ability to function, hepatitis A is most likely contracted from contaminated food, water or someone already infected. Mild cases dont require treatment, and most who have the infection recover completely with no permanent liver damage. Effective vaccines are available and recommended for children at age 1 for older children who didnt get the vaccine at age 1 and for people traveling to areas with high rates of the illness, among others. Practicing good hand hygiene is one of the best ways to protect against hepatitis A.
Hepatitis B: For some people, hepatitis B infection becomes chronic, leading to liver failure, liver cancer or cirrhosis — a condition that causes permanent scarring of the liver. It is spread through bodily fluids. Most people infected as adults recover fully, even if their signs and symptoms are severe. Infants and children are much more likely to develop a chronic hepatitis B infection.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends hepatitis C screening for all baby boomers.
Is There Anything Else I Should Know
Hepatitis A vaccines are effective even when administered up to 15 days after exposure to the virus. Infants, immunocompromised people, people with chronic liver disease, or adults over 40 may be given an injection of immune globulin instead of the vaccine for post-exposure protection.
Although hepatitis A IgM antibodies are considered diagnostic for acute infection with hepatitis A, there has been increasing use of the test in people who do not have signs and symptoms of acute hepatitis. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have recommended that the test only be used for persons who clinically have acute hepatitis to decrease the possibility of falsely positive results.
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Are There Complications
The Mayo Clinic explains, Unlike other types of viral hepatitis, hepatitis A does not cause long-term liver damage, and it doesnt become chronic. However, as mentioned earlier, it can be serious for individuals with chronic liver disease or older adults as rare cases may lead to sudden loss of liver function.
If an individual develops acute liver failure, theyll need to stay in the hospital for treatment. In some cases, the individual may require a liver transplant.
Duration Of Hepatitis C
The other 75 to 85 percent of people go on to become hepatitis C carriers and develop a chronic infection, which can last a lifetime if left untreated. Chronic hepatitis C can lead to hepatitis Crelated complications, including chronic liver disease, cirrhosis, and liver cancer.
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