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Signs Of Hepatitis C In Women

General Signs And Symptoms Of Hepatitis C

Symptoms of Hepatitis C – Dr. Paul Thuluvath – Mercy

As mentioned, many cases of hepatitis C infection often go unnoticed because they donât always present symptoms. If you do present symptoms, they manifest about four to 12 weeks after initial exposure to the virus. Symptoms can also vary between acute and chronic forms of the infection. Acute hepatitis C symptoms may include:

  • Pain in your abdomen
  • Fever
  • Nausea and/or vomiting

Chronic hepatitis C infections can remain dormant for years, and it usually isnât apparent until the virus has caused significant damage to the liver.

What Are The Symptoms Of Hepatitis C

You may have hepatitis C and not have any signs or symptoms.

For those who do have symptoms, you may experience:

  • fever
  • nausea and vomiting
  • jaundice

Hepatitis C can lead to liver damage, as it causes swelling . This swelling causes scarring of the liver, which affects how the organ functions.

Liver scarring can worsen . This increases your chances of getting liver cancer.

How quickly your liver undergoes damage will depend on if you:

About 60% to 70% of people with hepatitis C do not develop symptoms until their liver has already been damaged.

When To Call A Doctor

911 or other emergency services immediately if you have hepatitis C and you:

  • Feel extremely confused or are having hallucinations.
  • Are bleeding from the rectum or are vomiting blood.
  • You think you may have been infected with hepatitis C.
  • You have risk factors for hepatitis C, such as IV drug use.
  • You have symptoms of hepatitis C and you think you may have been exposed to hepatitis C.
  • A home test for hepatitis C virus shows that you have hepatitis C. More testing is needed to find out if you have an active infection.

In most areas, public health clinics or health departments are able to diagnose and provide low-cost assessment and treatment of hepatitis C.

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How Can You Avoid Hepatitis C

Right now there is no vaccination to protect you againsthepatitis C. However, you can take steps to protectyourself from becoming infected:

  • Don’t use injectable drugs.
  • If you use drugs, get vaccinated against hepatitis A and hepatitis B and enter a treatment program.
  • Never share needles, syringes, water, or “works” for intravenous drug use, to inject steroids, or cosmetic substances.
  • Handle needles and other sharp objects safely.
  • Do not use personal items that may have come into contact with an infected person’s blood.
  • Do not get tattoos or body piercings from an unlicensed facility or in an informal setting.
  • Wear gloves if you have to touch another person’s blood. Always clean hands after removing gloves.
  • Have safer sex. Each time you have sex use a condom.

For more information, see Safer Sex.

Getting Tested For Hepatitis C

How Hepatitis C Symptoms Differ in Females

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.

Read Also: What Is The Best Treatment For Hepatitis C

Syphilis Symptoms In Women

Syphilis is a highly contagious infection thats usually transmitted during vaginal, anal, or oral sex through contact with a chancre . These chancres can appear on your vulva, in the vagina, around the anus, inside the rectum, or in or around the mouth.

In women, syphilis symptoms can be easily overlooked or unnoticed. Sores may be mistaken for ingrown hairs or harmless bumps, or they can occur internally or in places that are difficult to look at. Also, syphilis can be confusing and sneaky because it goes through different stages with varying symptoms, and there may be times when you have no symptoms at all. According to the CDC, the start of first syphilis symptoms can range from 10-90 days after infection.9

Syphilis symptoms in women include:

  • Single or multiple chancres
  • Usually firm, round, and painless or sometimes wet and open
  • Typically pop up where the infection entered your body
  • Red or reddish-brown spots on the palms of the hand and/or bottoms of the feet
  • Gray or whitish lesions in the mouth, underarm, or groin area
  • Sore throat
  • Mental confusion
  • Deterioration of sight or hearing
  • Chancres usually last about 3-6 weeks before healing on their own. Even though the sore is gone, the infection stays in the body and can eventually progress to more advanced stages. Left untreated, syphilis can damage your nervous system, brain, and other organs and cause serious health problems like blindness, paralysis, or even death.

    Hepatitis C Symptoms & Treatment


    • Hepatitis C is found in infected blood. It is also rarely found in semen and vaginal fluids.

    • Hepatitis C is mainly passed on through using contaminated needles and syringes or sharing other items with infected blood on them. It can also be passed on through unprotected sex, especially when blood is present.

    • You can prevent hepatitis C by never sharing needles and syringes, practising safer sex, and avoiding unlicensed tattoo parlours and acupuncturists.

    • Hepatitis C will often not have any noticeable symptoms, but a simple blood test carried out by a healthcare professional will show whether you have hepatitis C.

    • In the early stages, some peoples bodies can clear a hepatitis C infection on their own, others may develop chronic hepatitis C and will need to take antiviral treatment to cure the infection.

    • Without treatment, chronic hepatitis C can lead to permanent liver damage.

    Hepatitis C is part of a group of hepatitis viruses that attack the liver.

    Its mainly passed on through contaminated needles, either from injecting drugs or from needle stick injuries in healthcare settings. It can also be transmitted sexually, especially during anal sex or other types of sex that may involve blood.

    Some groups are more at risk of getting hepatitis C than others, including people who use drugs, people in prisons, men who have sex with men, health workers and people living with HIV.

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    How Common Is Hepatitis C

    There are approximately 30,000 new cases of acute hepatitis C every year in the United States as estimated by the CDC. In 2015, it was estimated that approximately 3.5 million Americans were infected with hepatitis C.

    On a global scale, the prevalence of hepatitis C is greatest in Central and East Asia, North Africa, and the Middle East. In 2016, it was estimated that 177 million people worldwide had antibodies to hepatitis C virus.

    • exposure to other people who do or might have hepatitis C.

    How Is Hepatitis C Diagnosed

    Woman’s Doctor: Why it’s important to screen for Hepatitis C

    Some women are unaware of an infection until a doctor discovers high liver enzymes on a routine liver function blood test. A high number of liver enzymes can signify liver inflammation.

    Enzymes help the liver function, but they can leak into the bloodstream when theres damage to liver cells. A liver function test checks the blood for two main enzymes: alanine transaminase and aspartate transaminase .

    A normal range for AST is 8 to 48 units per liter of serum, and a normal range for ALT is 7 to 55 units per liter of serum. Elevated liver enzymes can indicate a liver problem. If your numbers are elevated and you have risk factors for hepatitis C, your doctor may conduct further testing to determine the cause of inflammation. This includes testing your blood for HCV antibody.

    If testing confirms hepatitis C, your doctor may also run a test to check your viral load, which shows the amount of the virus in your blood. Additionally, you may have a liver biopsy to determine the severity of the disease.

    Your doctor may not suspect hepatitis C if your liver enzymes are within a normal range, and as a result, never recommend further testing. This is dangerous because according to a report by the HCV Advocate, some experts feel that the cut-off number for abnormal liver test should actually be lower for women than the number most labs use.

    If your liver function test is normal but your enzyme levels are close to the cut-off number, ask your doctor to check for hepatitis C.

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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.

    Estimated Prevalence Of Anti

    The estimated prevalence of anti-HCV positive women in BC declined from 25,251 in 2012 to 22,056 in 2019 . The estimated number of women who were viraemic also declined from 16,250 to 2012 to 8677 in 2019. The corresponding rate of viraemia declined from 64.4% of anti-HCV positive women in 2012 to 39.3% in 2019.

    Read Also: What Drug Is Used To Treat Hepatitis B

    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

    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.

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    Who Is More Likely To Get Hepatitis C

    People more likely to get hepatitis C are those who

    • have injected drugs
    • had a blood transfusion or organ transplant before July 1992
    • have hemophilia and received clotting factor before 1987
    • have been on kidney dialysis
    • have been in contact with blood or infected needles at work
    • have had tattoos or body piercings
    • have worked or lived in a prison
    • were born to a mother with hepatitis C
    • are infected with HIV
    • have had more than one sex partner in the last 6 months or have a history of sexually transmitted disease
    • are men who have or had sex with men

    In the United States, injecting drugs is the most common way that people get hepatitis C.13

    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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    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.

    Articles On Hepatitis C

    Know these symptoms of hepatitis C

    Hepatitis C is a sneaky virus. You may not have any symptoms at all. Most people donât. This is one if the reasons, along with treatability now, that all adults are recommended to get tested. Your doctor could check your liver and see only a little damage. You’re usually not diagnosed until they spot a problem with your liver enzymes after a routine blood test.

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    What Are The Symptoms Of Hepatitis C In Women

    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.

    Hiv/aids Symptoms In Women

    HIV, or the human immunodeficiency virus, destroys immune cells and eventually weakens the bodys ability to fight off infections. Its mostly contracted during anal or vaginal sex or when sharing needles. In the United States, about 1 in 4 people living with HIV are women.7

    Many women with HIV dont know they have it for a long time after infection. This is because its common to show no symptoms for weeks, months, or even years. Some people develop flu-like symptoms within the first 2-4 weeks of infection during the acute phase . HIV symptoms often resemble less serious conditions and can be easily brushed off or ignored. Additionally, HIV can affect women in unique ways, so they may experience changes to their menstrual cycle or get menopause symptoms earlier than other women.8

    HIV symptoms in women can include:

    • Fever
    • Sores in the mouth, anus, or genitals
    • Skin rashes, blotches, and lesions
    • Recurrent infections like pneumonia and tuberculosis

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    The 2019 Hcv Care Cascade For Women And Men In Bc

    Figure displays the 2019 HCV care cascade for women and men in BC. In 2019, 52,638 people with known sex, including 19,522 women and 33,116 men were anti-HCV positive in 2019 . The proportion of anti-HCV positive women receiving a confirmatory RNA test was 86% compared to 82.6% of men. 34% of women RNA tested had negative results compared to 24.1% of men. Among people who had the virus they acquired genotyped, 68% of women and 67% of men initiated treatment, with 94% of women and 92% of men achieving SVR.

    Fig. 2

    Treatment Of Hepatitis C

    Signs of hepatitis C in women

    Hepatitis C is treated with antiviral medications that aim to clear the virus from your body.

    New all-tablet treatments have greatly improved the outcomes for people with hepatitis C. These treatments can cure more than 95% of individuals with chronic hepatitis C. There are several new tablets that are used in combination to treat all hepatitis C strains . They are effective for people with no liver damage and those who have more advanced liver damage or cirrhosis.

    These new tablet medications are available and subsidised on the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme, and can be prescribed by specialists, general practitioners and specialised nurse practitioners.

    There are no restrictions on accessing treatment it is available for all adults with a Medicare card. People under 18 are able to access treatment and it is recommended they are referred to a pediatrician experienced in the treatment of hepatitis C.

    For more information on the new medications for the treatment of hepatitis C, see our video: Hepatitis C Cure what it means for Victorians.

    If your doctor does not know about the new treatments, you can call the LiverLine on for information, and to find a GP who can help you.

    Talk with your doctor about treatment options and the potential for interactions with other medications, herbal preparations and other drugs. If you take prescribed medication this will be managed so you can access treatment.

    In general, if you have hepatitis C you will feel better if you:

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