Testing For Hepatitis C
Hepatitis C is usually diagnosed using 2 blood tests: the antibody test and the PCR test. These can be as part of a routine blood test or are often combined as a dried blood spot test. The dried blood spot test is similar to a blood sugar test in pricking the finger to get a blood spot that is put on a testing card. This is then sent to a laboratory to be tested.
Another similar test is an antigen test, which if used can often get the results back in 90 minutes. This is very expensive and not many services have access to the machine needed.
What Is The Treatment For People With Acute Hepatitis C Infection
When people first get hepatitis C, the infection is said to be acute. Most people with acute hepatitis C do not have symptoms so they are not recognized as being infected. However, some have low-grade fever, fatigue or other symptoms that lead to an early diagnosis. Others who become infected and have a known exposure to an infected source, such as a needlestick injury, are monitored closely.
Treatment decisions should be made on a case-by-case basis. Response to treatment is higher in acute hepatitis infection than chronic infection. However, many experts prefer to hold off treatment for 8-12 weeks to see whether the patient naturally eliminates the virus without treatment. Approaches to treatment are evolving. Patients with acute hepatitis C infection should discuss treatment options with a health care professional who is experienced in treating the disease. There is no established treatment regimen at this time.
How effective is hepatitis C treatment? Is hepatitis C curable?
If the hepatitis C RNA remains undetectable at the end of the treatment and follow-up period, this is called a sustained virologic response and is considered a cure. Over 90% of people treated with DAAs are cured. These people have significantly reduced liver inflammation, and liver scarring may even be reversed.
About 5% of people who are treated for HCV infection are not cured by some of the older regimens. These people may still have options for cure with the newer regimens.
Why Getting Tested Is Important
A blood test is one of the only ways to confirm a diagnosis of hepatitis C. Additionally, hepatitis C often has no visible symptoms for many years.
Because of this, its important to be tested if you believe youve been exposed to the virus. Getting a timely diagnosis can help ensure you receive treatment before permanent liver damage occurs.
You May Like: How Do You Cure Hepatitis A
How Is Monitoring Done After Treatment For Hepatitis C
Once patients successfully complete treatment, the viral load after treatment determines if there is an SVR or cure. If cure is achieved , no further additional testing is recommended unless the patient has cirrhosis. Those who are not cured will need continued monitoring for progression of liver disease and its complications.
While cure eliminates worsening of fibrosis by hepatitis C, complications may still affect those with cirrhosis. These individuals still need regular screening for liver cancer as well as monitoring for esophageal varices that may bleed.
Because hepatitis B co-infection may reactivate or worsen even after treatment for HCV, monitoring for hepatitis symptoms may be needed after the end of therapy.
Treating Hepatitis C Matters
When you see your doctor and start treatment for a chronic hep C infection, you can prevent these problems, improve them, or keep them from getting worse. New drugs can clear the virus from your body in a few months with fewer side effects than older medicines. If thereâs no virus in your blood 3 months after treatment, youâre considered cured.
Getting rid of the infection protects others, too. Hepatitis C spreads through blood-to-blood contact. You could infect a loved one if you accidentally use their toothbrush or cut yourself and donât clean up the blood properly. People who get hep C treatment greatly lower the odds that they will pass the virus to someone else.
If you arenât sure if you have hepatitis C, talk to your doctor to see if you should get tested. Learn why you should get tested for hepatitis C.
You May Like: Hepatitis B What You Need To Know
Hepatitis C Hero: Fruits And Veggies
When it comes to fruits and vegetables for a hepatitis C diet, it’s the more the merrier. They’re rich in fiber, which helps you feel full for longer, as well as other nutrients that support heart health. Low in calories and fat, they make it easier to reach a healthy weight, says Camilla Graham, MD, assistant professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School in Boston. That, in turn, can reduce your chances of both fatty liver disease and diabetes. This is particularly important because those conditions can accelerate the damage of hepatitis C, she adds.
The Best Foods And Drinks For Hepatitis C
Nutritious foods like fruits and vegetables promote liver health when you have hepatitis C. Others, such as alcohol and salt, can make the condition worse.
Although there’s no specific diet that will benefit every one of the nearly 4 million people in the United States currently living with hepatitis C, certain foods and drinks may boost liver function. Others, however, may be harmful to the liver.
What’s more: People with hepatitis C have an increased risk of type 2 diabetes and fatty liver disease, so making smart choices and maintaining a normal weight can help keep these threats at bay. A healthy diet should be considered an important part of your overall treatment plan.
You May Like: How Would You Know If You Have Hepatitis C
Getting Tested Is The Only Way To Know If You Have Hepatitis C
A blood test called a hepatitis C antibody test can tell if you have been infected with the hepatitis C viruseither recently or in the past. If you have a positive antibody test, another blood test is needed to tell if you are still infected or if you were infected in the past and cleared the virus on your own.
- Are 18 years of age and older
- Are pregnant
- Currently inject drugs
- Have ever injected drugs, even if it was just once or many years ago
- Have HIV
- Have abnormal liver tests or liver disease
- Are on hemodialysis
When To Call A Professional
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that anyone born between 1945 and 1965 consider getting a one-time blood test for hepatitis C.
High-risk individuals should be tested for hepatitis C. High-risk individuals include anyone who:
- Received transfusions of blood or blood products before 1992
- Received an organ transplant before 1992
- Has ever injected drugs or snorted cocaine
- Has been on long-term hemodialysis
- Has had multiple sexual partners
- Has a long-term sexual partner with hepatitis C
- Lives in the same household as someone with hepatitis C
- Has evidence of liver disease
You May Like: Hepatitis C Effects On The Body
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.
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.
You May Like: Common Symptoms Of Hepatitis C
What Is Hepatitis B
Hepatitis B is an infection with a virus that affects the liver. It can cause long lasting liver damage.
Hepatitis B can be acute or chronic. If a person has acute hepatitis B, the virus makes them sick for a short time , then their body clears the virus and they recover.
If the infection last for more than 6 months, it is called chronic hepatitis. Chronic hepatitis is a lifelong illness.
Vaccination can prevent hepatitis B.
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.
You May Like: Cure For Hepatitis A And B
What Do Hepatitis C Symptoms Look Like
Hepatitis C infection can go through two stages: acute and chronic. In the early, or acute stage, most people don’t have symptoms. If they do develop symptoms, these can include:
- flu-like symptoms, tiredness, high temperature and aches and pains
- loss of appetite
- tummy pain
- jaundice, meaning your skin and the whites of your eyes turn yellow
While for some people, the infection will clear without treatment, in most cases, acute infection will develop into long-term chronic infection. Chronic infection may not become apparent for a number of years until the liver displays signs of damage. These symptoms can include:
- mental confusion and depression these are specific to hepatitis C
- constantly feeling tired
- nausea, vomiting or tummy pain
- dark urine
- feeling bloated
- joint and muscle pain
Without treatment, chronic hepatitis C can cause scarring of the liver , which can cause the liver to stop working properly. A small number of people with cirrhosis develop liver cancer and these complications can lead to death. Other than a liver transplant, theres no cure for cirrhosis. However, treatments can help relieve some of the symptoms.
Possible Complications Of Hepatitis C
Theres one main complication of acute hepatitis C: It could become chronic.
- Cirrhosis. With cirrhosis, scar tissue gradually replaces healthy tissue in your liver, blocking blood flow and disrupting liver function. Cirrhosis can eventually lead to liver failure.
- Liver cancer. Having chronic hepatitis C raises your risk for eventually developing liver cancer. If you develop cirrhosis or your liver is very damaged before treatment, youll still have a higher risk for cancer after getting treated.
- Liver failure. It takes a long time for your liver to fail. Liver failure, or end-stage liver disease, happens slowly over months, often years. When your liver becomes unable to function properly, youll need a transplant.
If you believe you contracted the hepatitis C virus, a good next step involves reaching out to a healthcare professional. Getting timely treatment can lower your risk for experiencing serious complications.
The sooner you get a diagnosis, the sooner your healthcare professional can start a treatment plan.
Currently, the best way to protect yourself from the hepatitis C virus is to avoid using any items that may have come into contact with someone elses blood.
You can do this by:
You May Like: How Is Hepatitis C Passed
Quines Contraen La Hepatitis C
Los grupos de mayor riesgo de contraer la infección están formados por
- las personas que alguna vez se inyectaron drogas, incluso las que se inyectaron sólo una vez o pocas veces hace muchos años
- las personas que recibieron transfusiones sanguíneas, de hemoderivados o trasplantes de órganos antes de junio de 1992, cuando se empezó a analizar la sangre con pruebas de VHC
- las personas que recibieron factor de coagulación antes de 1987.
Otros grupos de riesgo están formados por
- los pacientes de diálisis a largo plazo
- los trabajadores del área de salud después de estar expuestos a la sangre de personas infectadas durante el trabajo
- los hijos de madres infectadas con el VHC
- las personas que tienen conducta sexual de alto riesgo, múltiples parejas y enfermedades de transmisión sexual
- las personas que inhalan cocaína con equipos compartidos
- las personas que comparten cepillos de dientes, hojas de afeitar y otros artículos de uso personal con familiares infectados.
When Should You Call A Doctor If You Think You May Have Hepatitis C
If a person develops one or more of the following symptoms, they should seek medical care:
- About 1-3 days of nausea and vomiting that is not improving
- Yellowish color to the skin and/or the eyes
- Dark urine
- Abdominal pain
Let your doctor know if you shared needles with someone or you have had contact with anyone who has been diagnosed with hepatitis C.
Don’t Miss: Signs And Symptoms Of Hepatitis B
How Is Hepatitis B Diagnosed
A diagnosis of hepatitis B infection is made using blood tests.
Because many people do not have symptoms when they get hepatitis B, they may never be diagnosed. Thats why screening for hepatitis B is recommended in a number of people including:
- people at higher risk
- pregnant women
If you think you have been exposed to infected blood or body fluids, see a doctor as soon as possible. There are treatments that can reduce your risk of developing the infection, if given shortly after exposure.
Se Analiza La Sangre Donada Para Determinar La Presencia Del Virus
Desde comienzos de la década de los noventa, todos los centros de donación de sangre de EE. UU. analizan la sangre de donantes para detectar la presencia del virus de la hepatitis C. La aplicación a gran escala de esta prueba redujo considerablemente el número de casos de hepatitis C postransfusión.
Read Also: Where Did Hepatitis C Come From
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%.
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.
Recommended Reading: Hepatitis C How You Get It
How Is Hepatitis B Treated
There is no specific treatment for acute hepatitis B infection. Treatment aims to maintain good health but not to cure the illness.
Not everyone with chronic hepatitis B needs treatment. In general, people who have chronic hepatitis B but do not have any signs of current liver damage will not need treatment. But it is important to have regular medical checkups to watch for signs of liver damage.
Those who already have liver damage should have close medical supervision and may need antiviral medications, regular monitoring and screening for liver cancer. Antivirals help reduce the risk of developing liver disease in the long term. If you have chronic hepatitis B, you may have to take medicines for the rest of your life.
If you have hepatitis B, you should drink plenty of fluids, eat a healthy balanced diet, get enough rest and avoid alcohol.
Causes And Risk Factors
HCV causes hepatitis C. People contract the virus through blood-to-blood contact with contaminated blood. For transmission to occur, blood containing HCV must enter the body of a person without HCV.
A speck of blood, invisible to the naked eye, can carry hundreds of hepatitis C virus particles, and the virus is not easy to kill.
The report the following risk factors for developing hepatitis C:
- using or having used injectable drugs, which is currently the most common route in the U.S.
- receiving transfusions or organ transplants before 1992, which is before blood screening became available
- having exposure to a needle stick, which is most common in people who work in healthcare
- being born to a mother who has hepatitis C
The CDC offer advice on cleaning syringes if it is not possible to use clean and sterile ones. Although bleach can kill the HCV in syringes, it may not have the same effect on other equipment. Boiling, burning and using alcohol, peroxide, or other common cleaning fluids to wash equipment can reduce the amount of HCV but might not stop a person from contracting the infection.
It is extremely dangerous to inject bleach, disinfectant, or other cleaning products, so people should make sure they rinse the syringe thoroughly. A person should only ever use bleach to clean equipment if new, sterile syringes and equipment are not available.
People who are at risk due to these factors can have screening to rule out HCV.
- peginterferon alfa-2a
Also Check: Is Hepatitis C Contagious After Being Cured