Thursday, June 16, 2022

What Does Chronic Hepatitis C Mean

Can A Transplant Cure Hepatitis C

What does hepatitis do to the body?

If you develop chronic hepatitis C and it leads to liver cancer or liver failure, you may need a liver transplant. Hepatitis C is one of the most common reasons for a liver transplant.

A liver transplant removes a damaged liver and replaces it with a healthy one. However, theres a high likelihood that the hepatitis C virus will be transmitted to the new liver in time.

The virus lives in your bloodstream, not just your liver. Removing your liver wont cure the disease.

If you have active hepatitis C, continued damage to your new liver is very likely, especially if hepatitis C remains untreated.

Could I Give Hepatitis C To Someone Else

Yes, once you have hepatitis C, you can always give it to someone else. If you have hepatitis C, you cannot donate blood. You should avoid sharing personal items like razors and toothbrushes. It is very rare to pass hepatitis C in these ways, but it can happen. Always use a condom when you have sex. If you have hepatitis C, your sexual partners should be tested to see if they also have it.

Talk to your doctor first if you want to have children. The virus isnt spread easily from a mother to her unborn baby. But it is possible, so you need to take precautions. However, if youre trying to have a baby, do not have sex during your menstrual cycle. The hepatitis C virus spreads more easily in menstrual blood.

How Can I Make A Difference For People With Hepatitis C

Anyone can help raise awareness about this widespread disease. Citizens can write letters to their state representatives or local newspapers and get involved in volunteer efforts with liver disease or Veteran-affiliated organizations . Speaking at support groups and sharing your experience is also a good way to help others with HCV.

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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.

How Will I Know If My Treatment Works

How is hepatitis C transmitted?

The goal of treatment is to reduce the amount of the hepatitis C virus in your blood to levels that cant be detected after 24 weeks of therapy. The amount of the virus in your blood is called your viral load. At the end of your treatment, your doctor will need to measure your viral load and find out how healthy your liver is. He or she may repeat many of the same tests that were done when you were first diagnosed with hepatitis C.

If your blood has so few copies of the virus that tests cant measure them, the virus is said to be undetectable. If it stays undetectable for at least 6 months after your treatment is finished, you have what is called a sustained virologic response . People who have an SVR have a good chance of avoiding serious liver problems in the future.

Treatment may not reduce your viral load. You may not have an SVR after treatment. If thats true, your doctor will discuss other treatment options with you. For example, if 1 round of treatment did not decrease your viral load enough, your doctor may recommend a second round. Even if treatment doesnt keep you from having active liver disease, lowering your viral load and controlling chronic liver inflammation may help you feel better for a longer time.

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How Should I Take Care Of Myself If I Have Hepatitis C

Good health habits are essential for those who have hepatitis C. You should especially avoid alcohol and medicines and drugs that can put stress on the liver. You should eat a healthy diet and start exercising regularly. Your family doctor can help you plan a diet that is healthy and practical.

Talk to your doctor about any medicines that you are taking, including over-the-counter medicine. Many medicines, including acetaminophen , are broken down by the liver. Because of this, they may increase the speed of liver damage. You should also limit alcohol use. It speeds the progression of liver diseases like hepatitis C. An occasional alcoholic drink may be okay, but check with your doctor first.

Is Chronic Viral Hepatitis C Contagious

Hepatitis C can be passed from person to person. Most people with HCV get it through direct contact with blood containing the virus.

People with hepatitis C can pass on the virus to others by sharing needles and syringes. Hepatitis C is easily transmitted among people who use intravenous drugs.

Its also possible, but much less common, to acquire the HCV by:

  • sharing a razor with a person who has the virus
  • sharing a toothbrush with a person who has the virus at the same time that you have bleeding gums
  • having sexual contact with a person who has the virus

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Staying Healthy With Hepatitis

Not everyone needs treatment right away, but its important to be monitored regularly by an experienced doctor and discuss treatment options of the best way to keep you healthy.

  • Get vaccinated against Hepatitis A and Hepatitis B
  • Avoid alcohol and drugs
  • Eat a healthy & balanced diet. Include a lot of vegetables and fruits try to stay away from too much salt, sugar and fat.
  • Exercise regularly. Walking is one of the best exercises, and it helps to make you feel less tired.
  • Check with a health professional before taking any prescription pills, supplements, or over-the-counter medications.
  • Do not share razors, nail clippers, needles or other items that come in contact with blood with other people.

Who Is At Risk For Hepatitis C

What is Hepatitis C? | How is Hepatitis C Transmitted?

You are more likely to get hepatitis C if you

  • Have injected drugs

If you have chronic hepatitis C, you probably will not have symptoms until it causes complications. This can happen decades after you were infected. For this reason, hepatitis C screening is important, even if you have no symptoms.

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What Foods Should I Avoid

Everyone should avoid eating a lot of fat, cholesterol, salt and processed sugar, even if their liver is healthy. In addition, those with HCV should limit or avoid alcohol. Drinking alcohol will speed up liver damage.

Eating properly can help decrease some of the symptoms of Hepatitis C, like feeling tired and sick. Drink lots of water for general health benefits. HCV is not a digestive disease diet will not affect the disease. Your provider may put you on a special diet if you have advanced liver disease.

What Are The Manifestations Of Chronic Hcv

Chronic HCV is in most instances a subclinical disease, and the only evidence of infection are the positive serologic tests. In some patients, LFTs are elevated, but even these people have no clinical signs of infection. Histologic signs of chronic hepatitis may be found by liver biopsy, but the inflammatory infiltrates are usually limited to portal areas, and such hepatitis is classified as mild. Severe chronic hepatitis is found in a minority of cases. Cirrhosis develops in some of these patients, and a small number of patients with cirrhosis will develop hepatocellular carcinoma.

Laura H. Mariani, Jeffrey S. Berns, in, 2014

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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.

What Are The Tests For Hepatitis C

Why The Prevention of Hepatitis C is so Important?

There are two blood tests needed to diagnose hepatitis C:

The antibody test–called HCV antibody, HCV Ab, or anti-HCV–is done first. If this test is positive, it means that you have been infected with hepatitis C at some point in the past. If your antibody test is negative, then you have never been infected with hepatitis C if you were infected within the past month or so, the test may not be accurate you may needed to be retested at a later date.

However, a positive antibody test does not tell you if you still have hepatitis C. For that, you need to have a HCV RNA test, which determines whether the virus itself is in the bloodstream.

If any RNA is present in the blood after 6 months from time of infection, then you have chronic hepatitis C.

If no RNA is detected in the blood after 6 months, you no longer have hepatitis C.

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Other Risks Can Include:

  • Sharing personal care items that may have come in contact with another persons blood, such as razors, toothbrushes or nail clippers
  • Inoculation practices involving multiple use needles or immunization air guns
  • Exposure of broken skin to HCV infected blood
  • HIV infected persons

People with current or past risk behaviors should consider HCV testing and consult with a physician. HCV testing is currently not available at most public health clinics in Missouri. For information about HCV testing that is available, call the HCV Program Coordinator at 573-751-6439.

Is It Safe To Take Aspirin Or Tylenol If I Have Hepatitis C

Tylenol is an over-the-counter pain killer. It can be harmful in high doses. If you have hepatitis or liver disease, then you can take Tylenol, but no more than 2,000 mg total over 24 hours. In general, this could be one 500 mg tablet every 6 hours, at the most. Acetaminophen is also included as an ingredient in some opiate medications and in some over-the-counter cold/flu medications, so please be aware of the dose of acetaminophen you may be taking from some combination medicines.

Aspirin, ibuprofen , naproxen , and other nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs , can be harmful if you have cirrhosis. They are safe in hepatitis patients who do not have cirrhosis. But, if a patient has cirrhosis, then NSAIDs cannot be taken at all. If you are not sure, always check with your provider.

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Reactive Or Positive Hepatitis C Antibody Test

  • A reactive or positive antibody test means that Hepatitis C antibodies were found in the blood and a person has been infected with the Hepatitis C virus at some point in time.
  • Once people have been infected, they will always have antibodies in their blood. This is true even if they have cleared the Hepatitis C virus.
  • A reactive antibody test does not necessarily mean that you have Hepatitis C. A person will need an additional, follow-up test.

Persons for Whom HCV Testing Is Recommended

  • Adults born from 1945 through 1965 should be tested once
  • Those who:
  • Ever injected drugs, including those who injected once or a few times many years ago
  • Have certain medical conditions, including persons:
  • who received clotting factor concentrates produced before 1987
  • who were ever on long-term hemodialysis
  • with persistently abnormal alanine aminotransferase levels
  • who have HIV infection
  • Were prior recipients of transfusions or organ transplants, including persons who:
  • were notified that they received blood from a donor who later tested positive for HCV infection
  • received a transfusion of blood, blood components, or an organ transplant before July 1992
  • HCV- testing based on a recognized exposure is recommended for:
  • Healthcare, emergency medical, and public safety workers after needle sticks, sharps, or mucosal exposures to HCV-positive blood
  • Children born to HCV-positive women
  • Symptoms Of Hepatitis C

    What is viral hepatitis?

    It is very important to know that not everyone with hepatitis C has symptoms. The only way to know if you have hepatitis is by talking to your doctor and getting a blood test.

    Many people living with hepatitis C feel well and only have symptoms once the disease has progressed and there is serious liver damage.

    If you do not have symptoms this does not mean that the virus isnt causing damage.

    When first infected, some people may find:

    • their urine becomes dark
    • their eyes and skin turn yellow
    • they experience a minor flu-like illness.

    These symptoms may disappear within a few weeks, but this does not necessarily mean that the infection has been cleared.

    Over time, symptoms that may develop include:

    • tiredness and fatigue
    • flu-like symptoms
    • pain in the abdomen where the liver is located
    • not feeling hungry and indigestion.

    Around 30% of people who have been infected may clear the virus from their blood naturally, with no treatment, within 6 months. These people no longer have the hepatitis C virus and are not infectious, but will always have hepatitis C antibodies in their blood. The presence of hepatitis C antibodies shows that someone has been exposed to the virus, but does not offer any immunity against hepatitis C. People can become reinfected after clearing the virus naturally, or after treatment.

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    What Are The Treatments For Hepatitis C

    Treatment for hepatitis C is with antiviral medicines. They can cure the disease in most cases.

    If you have acute hepatitis C, your health care provider may wait to see if your infection becomes chronic before starting treatment.

    If your hepatitis C causes cirrhosis, you should see a doctor who specializes in liver diseases. Treatments for health problems related to cirrhosis include medicines, surgery, and other medical procedures. If your hepatitis C leads to liver failure or liver cancer, you may need a liver transplant.

    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?
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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.

    If You Have Hepatitis C Can You Have Sex Without Infecting Your Partner

    What is Viral Hepatitis?

    Hepatitis C is a virus that is transmitted by blood. The most common ways people become infected with hepatitis C are through needle sharing, such as during injection drug use, or from blood transfusions received before 1992.

    Becoming infected from sex is not common, but it does happen. If you have hepatitis C, the chance of infecting a sex partner is higher if you are with a new partner or if you have had many different partners over time. If you have hepatitis C, the chance of infecting a sex partner is lower if you are with a longtime stable partner and if you are in a monogamous relationship.

    If your sex partner is new to you, or if you have many different partners, it is safer if you use condoms during sex to reduce the chance of transmitting hepatitis C.

    It is always best to talk directly with your health care provider to assess whether you should start using condoms. If you are in a sexual relationship and either you or your partner has hepatitis C, the other partner should be tested for hepatitis C and other sexually transmitted viruses once a year, or as advised by your provider.

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