Friday, November 25, 2022

What Can Hepatitis C Do To You

Hepatitis C And Blood Spills

What is Hepatitis C and Why Should You Care?

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.

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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Hepatitis C Management In Primary Care

  • A new direct-acting antiviral oral regimen for the treatment of hepatitis C, glecaprevir + pibrentasvir will be subsidised without restriction from 1 February, 2019.
  • Treatment with glecaprevir + pibrentasvir is simpler than with Viekira Pak regimens and patients with hepatitis C should now predominantly receive treatment in primary care.
  • Glecaprevir + pibrentasvir can be prescribed to patients with hepatitis C virus infection due to any of the HCV genotypes.
  • Glecaprevir + pibrentasvir is taken as a once daily regimen of three tablets, for eight weeks, regardless of HCV genotype.
  • Glecaprevir + pibrentasvir can be prescribed to patients infected with any HCV genotype, therefore genotype testing prior to initiating treatment is no longer required.
  • Ribavirin is not required for patients with genotype 1a infection receiving glecaprevir + pibrentasvir treatment.
  • Patients should present prescriptions for glecaprevir + pibrentasvir to an enrolled pharmacy.
  • Viekira Pak regimens will be delisted.
  • Ledipasvir + sofosbuvir continues to be subsidised for patients with advanced disease.

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Causes Of Hepatitis C

The Signs and Symptoms of Hepatitis A

You can become infected with hepatitis C if you come into contact with the blood of an infected person.

Other bodily fluids can also contain the virus, but blood contains the highest level of it. Just a small trace of blood can cause an infection. At room temperature, it’s thought the virus may be able survive outside the body in patches of dried blood on surfaces for up to several weeks.

The main ways you can become infected with the hepatitis C virus are described below.

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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.

Hepatitis C Virus Strains

There are different strains of the hepatitis C virus. These are called genotypes. In New Zealand, it is estimated that of those infected with hepatitis C virus:

  • 55% have genotype 1
  • 35% have genotype 3
  • 8% have genotype 2
  • 1% have genotype 4 or 6.

It used to be important to know the genotype as it used to determine which treatment option was best. We now have a funded treatment called Maviret that treats all genotypes .

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How Do Doctors Treat The Complications Of Hepatitis C

If hepatitis C leads to cirrhosis, you should see a doctor who specializes in liver diseases. Doctors can treat the health problems related to cirrhosis with medicines, surgery, and other medical procedures. If you have cirrhosis, you have an increased chance of liver cancer. Your doctor may order an ultrasound test to check for liver cancer.

If hepatitis C leads to liver failure or liver cancer, you may need a liver transplant.

Poor Infection Control For Tattooing And Piercing

How Does Hepatitis C Hurt Your Liver? | WebMD

The notes that HCV may be transmitted by receiving tattoos or piercings from unregulated settings with poor infection control standards.

Commercially licensed tattooing and piercing businesses are generally thought to be safe.

More informal settings may not have adequate safeguards to help avoid the spread of infections. Receiving a tattoo or piercing in settings such as in a prison or in a home with friends carries a of HCV transmission

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When To Seek Medical Advice

See your GP if you persistently have any of the later symptoms listed, or if they keep returning. They may recommend having a blood test that can check for hepatitis C.

Read more about diagnosing hepatitis C

None of these symptoms mean you definitely have hepatitis C, but itâs important to get them checked out.

You should also speak to your GP about getting tested if thereâs a risk youâre infected, even if you donât have any symptoms. This particularly includes people who inject drugs or have done so in the past.

Read about the causes of hepatitis C for more information about whoâs at risk of having the infection.

Page last reviewed: 27 October 2021 Next review due: 27 October 2024

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

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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.

Hepatitis C Testing And Diagnosis

Know The ABC

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.
  • Reactive, or positive:
  • That means you have hep C antibodies and youâve been infected at some point.
  • Youâll need another test to make sure.
  • 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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    Questions For Your Doctor

    When you visit the doctor, you may want to ask questions to get the information you need to manage your hepatitis C. If you can, have a family member or friend take notes. You might ask:

  • What kinds of tests will I need?
  • Are there any medications that might help?
  • What are the side effects of the medications you might prescribe?
  • How do I know when I should call the doctor?
  • How much exercise can I get, and is it all right to have sex?
  • Which drugs should I avoid?
  • What can I do to prevent the disease from getting worse?
  • How can I avoid spreading hepatitis C to others?
  • Are my family members at risk for hepatitis C?
  • Should I be vaccinated against other types of hepatitis?
  • How will you keep tabs on the condition of my liver?
  • Life Expectancy And Prognosis

    Can you die from hepatitis? Technically, the complications of chronic hepatitis C are fatal. About 30,000 people in the U.S. die each year from cirrhosis.

    How long can you live with untreated hep C? The disease affects everyone differently, so thereâs no rule. But about 70% to 80% of people with will get chronic help C. Within 20 years, about 20% to 30% of those people will get cirrhosis. From there, it depends on what type of cirrhosis you have, your treatment, and if you can get a liver transplant.

    Can hepatitis C go away on its own? Yes. From 15% to 20% of people with hep C clear it from their bodies without treatment. Itâs more likely to happen in women and people who have symptoms. But it usually happens between 4 and 18 months after symptoms start.

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    How To Lower Your Odds Of Infection

    Thereâs no effective vaccine against HCV. Take some precautions in high-risk situations. If youâre a health care worker, be careful with blood. If you have sex with more than one partner, use condoms. And if you use drugs, donât share needles, syringes, or anything that goes up your nose.

    Spouses, partners, and others in close contact with people who have hep C should not share toothbrushes and razors. If you have the disease, cover your wounds and throw out blood-soaked bandages, tampons, or pads. Donât let anyone else in the house touch them.

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    What Are The Symptoms Of Viral Hepatitis

    Hepatitis C Can Be Cured

    The symptoms of viral hepatitis are similar for all types of hepatitis.9 They include:

    • Low-grade fever
    • Joint pain
    • Jaundice , which is when the skin and whites of the eyes turn yellow

    People who are newly infected are most likely to have one or more of these symptoms, but some people with viral hepatitis do not have any symptoms. New hepatitis A infections usually cause symptoms, but as many as half the people with new hepatitis B and hepatitis C infections do not have symptoms.

    Certain blood tests can show if you have hepatitis, even if you do not have symptoms. People with chronic hepatitis B or C often develop symptoms when their liver becomes damaged.

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    What Should I Do If I Think I Have Been Exposed To Viral Hepatitis

    • If you may have been exposed to hepatitis A or B, your doctor may recommend getting a vaccine to keep you from getting the infection.22,23
    • The CDC recommends that people who are exposed to hepatitis C, such as a health care worker after an accidental needle stick, get tested for hepatitis C infection.18 New antiviral medicines for hepatitis C cure most of the people who take them. If you have health insurance, ask about your copay and coinsurance and which medicines are covered under your plan.

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    Contaminated Needles And Infected Blood

    You can get hepatitis C from sharing contaminated needles, syringes and other injecting equipment during recreational drug use. Banknotes and straws used for snorting may also pass the virus on.

    Being exposed to unsterilised tattoo and body piercing equipment can also pass hepatitis C on. Occasionally, you can get it from sharing a towel, razor blades or a toothbrush if there is infected blood on them.

    Hepatitis C infection is also passed on in healthcare settings, from needle stick injuries or from medical and dental equipment that has not been properly sterilised. In countries where blood products are not routinely screened, you can also get hepatitis C by receiving a transfusion of unscreened blood and blood products.

    You can prevent hepatitis C by:

    • never sharing needles and syringes or other items that may be contaminated with infected blood
    • only having tattoos, body piercings or acupuncture in a professional setting, where new, sterile needles are used
    • following the standard infection control precautions, if youre working in a healthcare setting.

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    The Connection Between Sleep Problems And Hepatitis C

    Sleep disturbances affect about 50 percent of people with hepatitis C, according to a study published in November 2014 in the Journal of Circadian Rhythms. Some sleep issues may be due to psychiatric problems, substance abuse issues, or advanced liver disease. In turn, not getting proper rest can increase your risk for depression, anxiety, and not feeling well in general, Graham says.

    Effectively treating hepatitis C can alleviate some of the fatigue and sleep problems once the virus is cleared, she says. And although sleep disturbances may also be a side effect of certain hepatitis C treatments, including DAAs, Graham emphasizes that the treatment lasts only 8 to 12 weeks, so these issues are likely temporary.

    How Common Is Hepatitis C In The United States

    Hepatitis C Deaths in U.S. Rose in 2014, but New Drugs Hold Promise ...

    In the United States, hepatitis C is the most common chronic viral infection found in blood and spread through contact with blood.14

    Researchers estimate that about 2.7 million to 3.9 million people in the United States have chronic hepatitis C.13 Many people who have hepatitis C dont have symptoms and dont know they have this infection.

    Since 2006, the number of new hepatitis C infections has been rising, especially among people younger than age 30 who inject heroin or misuse prescription opioids and inject them.15,16

    New screening efforts and more effective hepatitis C treatments are helping doctors identify and cure more people with the disease. With more screening and treatment, hepatitis C may become less common in the future. Researchers estimate that hepatitis C could be a rare disease in the United States by 2036.17

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    Prevention Is The Best Medicine

    Even though hepatitis C rarely spreads within a household, if you or a family member have the disease, it’s wise to take precautions to prevent its spread especially if anyone in your home is immune compromised, or has cuts or open sores that increase the risk of infection.

    In general, use these common sense preventive tips:

    • Unless you are in a long-term, monogamous relationship, practice safe sex.
    • Clean up spilled or dried blood with a bleach-based cleaning solution and wear rubber gloves.
    • Do not share razors.
    • Do not share toothbrushes. “Though hepatitis C is not transmitted through saliva, there might be blood on the toothbrush,” Reau says.

    Note that hepatitis C is not transmitted by sharing eating utensils, hugging, kissing, coughing or sneezing.

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