In Case You Feel You Have Hepatitis A Then What To Do
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Articles On Hepatitis C
What is hepatitis C?
Hepatitis C is an infection caused by the hepatitis C virus . There are different types of hepatitis viruses, including hepatitis A, B, D, and E. Among the different viruses, hepatitis C is the most serious because it can be chronic and cause severe liver damage.
The virus spreads through contact with infected blood, so certain people have a higher risk of infection. This includes healthcare workers exposed to blood and drug users. Getting a tattoo or piercing with unsterilized equipment also increases the risk of infection.
Hepatitis C affects both men and women. As a whole, the symptoms and complications of the disease are the same for both sexes. But the virus can affect women differently.
How Is It Spread
Hepatitis C virus is mostly spread by blood from aninfected person when:
- Sharing needles or other equipment to inject drugs. This is the most common way people get hepatitis C in the U.S.
- Getting a needle stick with a needle that was used on an infected person
- Sharing items that may have come in contact with another person’s blood, such as razors, nail clippers, pierced earrings, toothbrushes
- Being tattooed or pierced with tools that were used on an infected person
- Having sexual contact with a person infected with the hepatitis C virus. The risk of getting hepatitis C from sexual contact is thought to be low.
Hepatitis C is rarely spread from a blood transfusion because:
- Hepatitis C tests are done on all donated blood.
- Blood and blood products that test positive for hepatitis C are safely destroyed. None are used for transfusions.
- There is no risk of getting hepatitis C when donating or giving blood.
Hepatitis C is not spread by kissing,hugging, coughing, or sharing food and eating utensils.
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Notable Ways This Liver Disease Affects Women Differently
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.
The symptoms of hepatitis C in women are similar to those in men. However, the disease can progress differently in people who are biologically female. Hepatitis C is a potentially fatal viral infection that can cause long-term damage to the liver. A biological female with hepatitis C faces unique challenges, including the risk of transmission to a fetus during pregnancy.
This article will go over the symptoms of hepatitis C in women who are biologically female. You will also learn how hepatitis C may affect people who are biologically female differently than people who are biologically male.
Who Should Be Vaccinated
- All children aged 1223 months
- All children and adolescents 218 years of age who have not previously received hepatitis A vaccine
People at increased risk for hepatitis A
- International travelers
- Men who have sex with men
- People who use or inject drugs
- People with occupational risk for exposure
- People who anticipate close personal contact with an international adoptee
- People experiencing homelessness
People at increased risk for severe disease from hepatitis A infection
- People with chronic liver disease, including hepatitis B and hepatitis C
- People with HIV
Other people recommended for vaccination
- Pregnant women at risk for hepatitis A or risk for severe outcome from hepatitis A infection
Any person who requests vaccination
There is no vaccine available for hepatitis C.
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Diagnosis Of Hepatitis C
If you are at risk of hepatitis C infection, or think you may have been exposed to hepatitis C in the past, see your doctor for an assessment of your liver health. This will include blood tests and possibly a non-invasive test for liver damage .
There are 2 blood tests used to diagnose hepatitis C. Usually these can be done at the same time but sometimes they will be done separately.
The first test known as a hepatitis C antibody test can tell you whether you have ever been exposed to hepatitis C.
It may take 2 to 3 months from the time of infection until a blood test can detect antibodies to hepatitis C, so there is a window period during which you cannot tell if you are or have been infected. In this time, take precautions to prevent the potential spread of the virus.
The second test is called hepatitis C PCR, which will be done if the antibody test is positive. This determines if the virus is still present in your blood or liver or if you have already cleared the infection.
If you have cleared the virus or had successful treatment to cure it, the PCR test will be negative.
A liver ultrasound or Fibroscan can also be performed to assess if you have any liver damage.
If your doctor is inexperienced in diagnosing hepatitis C you can call the LiverLine on for information, and to find a GP who can help you.
Your Risk For Serious Hep C Complications Increases After Menopause
One thing many people dont realize about hepatitis C is that menopause can affect the infection. Estrogen may play a role in reducing how quickly the virus replicates, which can help protect you from liver damage and other issues associated with a chronic hep C infection. However, when estrogen levels drop during menopause, this can lead to a quick worsening of your condition. Hepatitis C typically progresses slower in pre-menopausal women than men, but once you reach menopause, you can see a rapid progression in symptoms and liver damage. So, consider scheduling a hep C test before you reach menopause. This way, you can seek treatment before your natural estrogen levels decrease.
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Acute Symptoms Of Hepatitis C
As far as we can tell the acute symptoms of hepatitis C are similar for both men and women and are like the flu. Acute symptoms are typically:
If symptoms are caught early enough, treatment can be given before complications set in. Acute symptoms appear one to three months after exposure and frequently go unnoticed.
Another complicating factor in early detection and treatment is that men often do not treat their symptoms or their diagnosis as women do. Studies show that men tend to ignore symptoms more often than women and opt not to report symptoms for many illnesses or to seek preventive health care .
Symptoms Of A Chronic Infection
If the hepatitis C infection progresses to a chronic infection , it can take years before symptoms develop. Symptoms of advanced liver disease caused by long-term chronic infection can include: jaundice fluid build-up and blood in stool or vomit. Sleep disturbances, depression, weight loss, dry or itchy skin, and brain fog also occur in people with chronic hepatitis C but the cause of these symptoms remains uncertain.
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How Do You Prevent Hepatitis C
Researchers have yet to develop a vaccine that prevents hepatitis C .
Just as you might not know you have hepatitis C, other people with the condition may not know they have it, either. But you can take a few key precautions to avoid contracting it:
- Avoid sharing needles.
- When getting piercings or tattoos, check to make sure the piercer or tattoo artist uses only sterile, unopened needles and ink.
- Avoid sharing nail clippers, razors, and toothbrushes.
- Use sterile gloves when caring for someone elses wound.
Since hepatitis C is transmitted through blood, you wont get it by sharing food and drinks with someone who has the condition or by hugging, touching, or holding hands.
Hepatitis C is not commonly transmitted through sexual contact. But using a condom or another barrier method when having sex can always help lower your chances of contracting a sexually transmitted infection.
Keep in mind that you can contract hepatitis C again, even if youve had it already.
How To Avoid Spreading Hepatitis C
- Tell the people that you live with or have sex with about your illness as soon as you can.
- Don’t share needles to inject drugs. Don’t share other equipment with others. Find out if a needle exchange program is available in your area, and use it. Get into a drug treatment program.
- Practice safer sex. Reduce your number of sex partners if you have more than one. Unless you are in a long-term relationship in which neither partner has sex with anyone else, always use latex condoms when you have sex.
- Make sure that all equipment is sterilized if you get a tattoo, have your body pierced, or have acupuncture.
- Do not share your personal items. These include razors, toothbrushes, towels, and nail files.
- Tell your doctor, dentist, and anyone else who may come in contact with your blood about your illness.
- Prevent others from coming in contact with your blood and other body fluids. Keep any cuts, scrapes, or blisters covered.
- Wash your handsâand any object that has come in contact with your bloodâthoroughly with water and soap.
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Hepatitis C And Injecting Drugs
If you inject drugs, avoid sharing needles, syringes or other equipment such as tourniquets, spoons, swabs or water.
Where possible, always use sterile needles and syringes. These are available free of charge from needle and syringe programs and some pharmacists. To find out where you can obtain free needles, syringes and other injecting equipment, contact DirectLine
Try to wash your hands before and after injecting. If you cant do this, use hand sanitiser or alcohol swabs from a needle and syringe program service.
Dark Urine And Pale Stool
Normally bilirubin is passed out in the stool and urine. It is partly responsible for the characteristic tan to dark brown color of stool and the light to dark yellow color of urine .Bilirun enters the bowels in bile that is secreted from the gallbladder whereas the kidneys filter out bilirubin from the blood into the urine.
However, when this bilirubin cannot be properly processed by the diseased liver then it cannot be expelled in bile. The stool therefore becomes lighter in color to a pale hue. With reduced expulsion of bilirubin in the bile, more is then expelled in the urine. As a result the urine becomes darker in color.
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Symptoms Of Infection With Hepatitis C
Symptoms of acute infection with hepatitis C
Acute infection is the period when you first contract the virus, during this period most people do not seem to experience any noticeable symptoms.
For the 25-35% of people who do, the symptoms are normally vague and non-specific.They can include: Abdominal pain Nausea and vomiting
About 20% of the people who develop symptoms experience jaundice. This can be seen in the yellowing of the skin and eyes. This is a sign of the livers functions being affected as bilirubin begins to build up in the body. Jaundice is a recognised sign of liver problems and may lead to a test for hepatitis C being suggested.The problem for most people is that they are unaware that they have been infected because of the lack of symptoms. As these symptoms are similar to many other short term infections most people are unlikely to seek medical attention.
And even when they do, most doctors will not necessarily suspect or test for hepatitis C.
Symptoms of chronic infection with hepatitis C
Chronic infection doesn’t mean that you have symptoms, chronic means that the infection is ongoing, that you are living with the virus.
The hepatitis C virus is associated with a wide spectrum of liver disease. This ranges from minor inflammation to cirrhosis, and in certain cases liver cancer.
Pains in the upper part of the abdomen
Dry eyes, irritable bowel and irritable bladder
Do not assume that all of your aches and pains are related to hepatitis.
What Happens If Someone Has Hepatitis C And Hiv
When someone has both Hepatitis C and HIV, it is often referred to as HCV-HIV co-infection. This means that you have two infections in your body at the same time. HIV, the term for human immunodeficiency virus, is the virus that causes AIDS. You can find more detailed information about HIV and AIDS on several Web sties, including:
HCV-HIV co-infection is fairly common. Overall, about one-third of all Americans infected with HIV also have Hepatitis C. And the rate of co-infection is much higher among injection drug users. More than half of people who have HIV and use injection drugs are also infected with Hepatitis C.
People that are co-infected can be effectively treated. However, since there are two infections to deal with managing them is more complicated. There is no cure for HIV, but it can be controlled. Hepatitis C can be treated successfully. Working closely with a doctor who specializes in managing co-infections will give you the best chance for successful treatment.
There are specific risks associated with co-infection. Having HIV, in addition to Hepatitis C, does the following:
- Quickens Hepatitis C disease progression
- Triples the risk for liver disease, liver failure and liver-related death
- Increases the chance that Hepatitis C will be sexually transmitted
- Increases the chance that a mother will infect her unborn child with Hepatitis C
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Who Should Be Tested
Testing for hepatitis A is not routinely recommended.
CDC recommends hepatitis B testing for:
- Men who have sex with men
- People who inject drugs
- Household and sexual contacts of people with hepatitis B
- People requiring immunosuppressive therapy
- People with end-stage renal disease
- People with hepatitis C
- People with elevated ALT levels
- Infants born to HBV-infected mothers
CDC recommends hepatitis C testing for:
- All adults aged 18 years and older
- All pregnant women during each pregnancy
- About 24,900 new infections each year
- About 22,600 new infections in 2018
- Estimated 862,000 people living with hepatitis B
- About 50,300 new infections in 2018
- Estimated 2.4 million people living with hepatitis C
Hepatitis C And Blood Spills
When cleaning and removing blood spills, use standard infection control precautions at all times:
- Cover any cuts or wounds with a waterproof dressing.
- Wear single-use gloves and use paper towel to mop up blood spills.
- Clean the area with warm water and detergent, then rinse and dry.
- Place used gloves and paper towels into a plastic bag, then seal and dispose of them in a rubbish bin.
- Wash your hands in warm, soapy water then dry them thoroughly.
- Put bloodstained tissues, sanitary towels or dressings in a plastic bag before throwing them away.
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How Does Hep C Spread
How do you get hepatitis C? Hepatitis C typically spreads through infected blood. One of the most common reasons for hep C transmission is sharing needles from illicit drug use. However, there are many other ways you might contract hepatitis C. For instance, getting tattoos or piercings using unsanitary needles, working in healthcare where you may be exposed to infected blood, or even sharing personal care items that may be contaminated with small amounts of blood, like razors or nail clippers.
Hepatitis C can also spread through sex, especially if there may be blood present, like if youre having sex during your period or if you experience tearing that causes light bleeding. This can create the blood-to-blood contact that can lead to a hepatitis C infection.
Less commonly, women can also spread hepatitis C to their babies during pregnancy and birth. Some estimate that the risk is about 6% per pregnancy for mothers with hep C. The good news is that it is typically treatable in babies when caught early.
Hepatitis C Symptoms In Women
Hepatitis C symptoms in women who are biologically female are similar to those that biological males experience.
After a woman is infected with hepatitis C virus , they enter an acute phase of infection in which symptoms may or may not develop. If acute symptoms of hepatitis C appear, they may include:
In many cases, the body’s immune system will be able to clear the acute infection on its own with no long-lasting consequences.
For some people, however, the infection can persist and become chronic, causing progressive injury to the liver. Over the course of years or decades, chronic hepatitis C can progress silently, leading to liver fibrosis , cirrhosis , liver failure, and liver cancer. For many, the disease will only become apparent in the advanced stages of infection.
The symptoms of hepatitis C are the same for women and men. Where the disease differs is in the rates of infection and disease progression in women versus men.
According to a 2014 review of studies in the Journal of Infectious Diseases, the characteristics of hepatitis C differ in women in several key ways:
|Hepatitis C Statistic|
|Lowest death rate from chronic HCV|
The review further details that women usually experience a sudden increase in disease activity in later, post-menopausal years, whereas men have steadier, albeit more rapid, disease progression.
Death rates are not only lower in women with chronic hepatitis C but are significantly so.
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