Fatigue And Associated Effects
Fatigue is among the most prevalent long-term symptoms of hepatitis C. In our 2018 Hepatitis C In America survey, over 40% of respondents said fatigue is the symptom that most impacts their daily life. Fatigue is characterized as an extreme tiredness that doesnt get better with sleep. It may be described as sleepiness, drowsiness, exhaustion, or feeling worn out. Fatigue can also make other symptoms of chronic HCV infection worse, such as depression, anxiety, or brain fog.
Ive Never Used Iv Drugs Or Been Stuck With A Dirty Needle How Did I Get Hepatitis C
Hepatitis C is usually spread through direct contact with the blood of a person who has the disease. It can also be transmitted by needles used for tattooing or body piercing. In rare cases, hepatitis C can be passed from a mother to her unborn baby. This virus can be transmitted through sex and sharing razors or toothbrushes. These occurrences are also rare. Many times, the cause of hepatitis C is never found.
Treatment And Medication For Hepatitis C
If you have acute hepatitis C, there is no recommended treatment. If your hepatitis C turns into a chronic hepatitis C infection, there are several medications available.
Interferon, peginterferon, and ribavirin used to be the main treatments for hepatitis C. They can have side effects like fatigue, flu-like symptoms, anemia, skin rash, mild anxiety, depression, nausea, and diarrhea.
Now youâre more likely to get one of these medications:
Find out more on treatment options for hepatitis C.
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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.
How Is Hepatitis B Treated
Your healthcare provider will treat you based on what type of hepatitis B you have, acute or chronic.
Acute hepatitis B infections
If you develop an acute form of the condition, you probably wont need medical treatment. Instead, your doctor will likely suggest that you get plenty of rest, drink lots of fluids and maintain a healthy diet to support your body as it fights off the infection.
Chronic hepatitis B infections
If you have chronic hepatitis B, you might be a candidate for drug therapy. Usually, drug therapy is used only if you have active liver disease. There are seven drugs that are approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to treat hepatitis B. Two are injectable forms of interferon, while the five other antivirals are tablets.
You will need to take these medications every day. They help by slowing the viruss ability to multiply in your system. This helps reduce swelling and liver damage. Youll need to be regularly monitored for early signs of liver damage and liver cancer. Your healthcare provider will want to see you once or twice a year.
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Who Should Be Vaccinated For Hepatitis B
All newborns should be vaccinated. Also, people who are under 18 who were not vaccinated at birth should also get the vaccine. Other groups who should be sure to be vaccinated are those in certain high-risk categories, such as:
- People who have more than one sexual partner.
- Men who have sex with men.
- Adults with diabetes.
- Sexual partners of infected people and people who share households with infected individuals.
- People who are exposed to blood and other bodily fluids, including healthcare and public safety professionals, and people who work in jails and other places taking care of people who cant take care of themselves.
Can Hepatitis C Infection Be Spread By Sexual Contact
Yes, but the risk of getting HCV from sexual contact is believed to be low. The risk increases for those who have multiple sex partners, have a sexually transmitted infection, engage in “rough sex” or other activities that might cause bleeding, or are infected with HIV. More research is needed to understand how and when HCV can be spread by sexual contact.
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Tips And Remedies To Help With Side Effects
There are things you can do to ease many of the side effects from hepatitis C treatment.
Remember that these side effects will typically go away once you’re cured, so stick with your treatment. Work with your doctor on your treatment plan so that you can manage any problems and try to get the virus out of your body as soon as possible
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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What Should You Know About Pregnancy And Hepatitis B
A pregnant woman who has hepatitis B can pass the infection to her baby at delivery. This is true for both vaginal and cesarean deliveries.
You should ask your healthcare provider to test you for hepatitis B when you find out you are pregnant. However, while it is important for you and your healthcare provider to know if you do have hepatitis B, the condition should not affect the way that your pregnancy progresses.
If you do test positive, your provider may suggest that you contact another healthcare provider, a liver doctor, who is skilled in managing people with hepatitis B infections. You may have a high viral load and may need treatment during the last 3 months of your pregnancy. A viral load is the term for how much of the infection you have inside of you.
You can prevent your infant from getting hepatitis B infection by making sure that your baby gets the hepatitis B vaccine in the hours after they are born along with the hepatitis B immunoglobulin. These two shots are given in two different locations on the baby. They are the first shots needed.
Depending on the type of vaccine used, two or three more doses must be given, usually when the baby is 1 month old and then 6 months old, with the last by the time the baby is 1 year old. It is critical that all newborns get the hepatitis B vaccination, but even more important if you have hepatitis B yourself.
You May Be At Risk For Hepatitis B If You:
- Have a job that exposes you to human blood.
- Live in the same house with someone who has lifelong hepatitis B virusinfection.
- Inject drugs.
- Have sex with a person infected with hepatitis B virus.
- Have sex with more than one partner.
- Are a child whose parents were born in Southeast Asia, Africa, theAmazon Basin in South America, the Pacific Islands, or the MiddleEast.
- Are a patient or work in an institution for the developmentallydisabled.
- Have hemophilia.
- Travel internationally to areas with a high prevalence of hepatitis B.
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Treatment Of Hepatitis C
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:
Chronic Hep C Infection
- Antiviral Medications: If you have chronic hepatitis C, your doctor may recommend antiviral medications to clear the virus from your body. Researchers have made significant progress recently in creating direct-acting antiviral drugs. These medications have fewer side effects and shorter treatment times, typically 8-12 weeks. Which medication your doctor chooses will depend on your specific profilewhich virus genotype you have, whether you have existing liver damage, and your medical history and prior hepatitis treatments.
- Liver transplantation: If you have serious complications from chronic hepatitis C infection, your doctor may recommend liver transplantation. A liver transplant doesnt cure hepatitis C, and the infection may return and require treatment with antiviral medications to clear the virus and prevent damage to the new liver, but a liver transplant can be a lifesaving procedure for those who need it.
- Vaccines: There is no vaccine for hepatitis C, but your doctor may recommend vaccines for hepatitis A and B viruses, which can also cause liver damage and worsen hepatitis C.
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Do I Have To Have Drug Treatment
The choice is up to you and your doctor. The decision to use drug therapy can be hard to make because of the potential side effects. Your doctor will closely monitor your symptoms and the amount of the virus in your body. He or she will also consider your overall health. This includes looking at blood test results. All are important factors to consider before you and your doctor start drug treatment for your hepatitis C.
Nonvirological Theories Of Hcv
In contrast to the seven positive studies cited in , the remaining negative study found that HCV+ patients performed no differently than HCVâ controls only HCV+ patients with decompensated cirrhosis evidenced worse performance . Although reasons for this incongruent finding remain unclear, its sample contrasted with other studies in terms of its low proportion of subjects with a history of intravenous drug use and its careful exclusion of patients with currently symptomatic medical comorbidities. This, of course, raises the possibility that HCV-associated cognitive impairment may be related to medical or substance use history rather than HCV itself. Indeed, an earlier study compared 66 HCV+ patients to 14 HCVâ controls with other types of liver disease on measures of cognitive functioning . Only the subgroup of HCV+ patients with medical comorbidities exhibited cognitive impairment, while the HCV+ patients with no medical comorbidities did not differ from HCVâ controls. While this study suggests that, for patients without medical comorbidities, the severity of HCV-associated cognitive impairment may not exceed the impairment level known to be associated with other types of liver disease , it remains unclear how the HCV+ patients may have compared to HCVâ controls without liver disease.
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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.
Effective Treatments Are Available For Hepatitis C
New medication to treat for HCV have been approved in recent years. These treatments are much better than the previously available treatment because they have few side effects and do not need to be injected. There are several direct-acting antiviral HCV treatments that cure more than 95% of people who take them in 8 to 12 weeks. HCV treatment dramatically reduces deaths among people with HCV infection, and people who are cured of HCV are much less likely to develop cirrhosis or liver cancer.
Take Action! CDCs National Prevention Information Network Service Locator helps consumers locate hepatitis B and hepatitis C prevention, care, and treatment services.
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Living With Hepatitis C
Coping with hepatitis C isnt easy. You may feel sad, scared, or angry. You may not believe you have the disease. These feelings are normal, but they shouldnt keep you from living your daily life. If they do or if they last a long time you may be suffering from depression. People who are depressed have most or all of the following symptoms nearly every day, all day, for 2 weeks or longer:
- Feeling sad, hopeless and having frequent crying spells.
- Losing interest or pleasure in things you used to enjoy .
- Feeling guilty, helpless, or worthless.
- Thinking about death or suicide.
- Sleeping too much or having problems sleeping.
- Loss of appetite and unintended weight loss or gain.
- Feeling very tired all the time.
- Having trouble paying attention and making decisions.
- Having aches and pains that dont get better with treatment.
- Feeling restless, irritated, and easily annoyed.
Talk to your doctor if you notice any of these symptoms. Your doctor can help by recommending a support group or a therapist. He or she may also prescribe a medicine for you to take.
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.
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Brain Effects: Brain Fog And Hepatic Encephalopathy
Many people with HCV report that they experience brain fog, a term that can mean any type of difficulty with thinking, focusing, or remembering. While doctors dont know exactly why this occurs, they believe it may be an effect of the HCV virus on the brain or it may be due to an increase of toxins in the body, which can affect the brain.2 Brain fog can be worsened if the person is also experiencing fatigue, depression, or anxiety. Fortunately, brain fog does seem to improve with treatment for HCV.
If the liver develops cirrhosis, hepatic encephalopathy can occur. Hepatic encephalopathy is a brain condition that occurs when the toxins which are normally cleared by the liver collect and cause damage to the brain. Hepatic encephalopathy can range from mild to severe and may appear as difficulty with memory, shortened attention span, irritability, confusion, or changes in personality. Treatment with medication can help, although some people may need a liver transplant.3
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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