Hepatitis C: Who Is At Risk
People who have injected illegal drugs at any time, even one time, many years ago, could be walking around with chronic hepatitis C. Because there are often no symptoms, many former drug users may not realize they have the infection. People who received a blood transfusion before 1992 also have a higher risk. Before that year, donated blood was not screened for the hepatitis C virus.
How Is It Spread
Hepatitis A is spread when a person ingests fecal mattereven in microscopic amountsfrom contact with objects, food, or drinks contaminated by feces or stool from an infected person.
Hepatitis B is primarily spread when blood, semen, or certain other body fluids- even in microscopic amounts from a person infected with the hepatitis B virus enters the body of someone who is not infected. The hepatitis B virus can also be transmitted from:
- Birth to an infected mother
- Sex with an infected person
- Sharing equipment that has been contaminated with blood from an infected person, such as needles, syringes, and even medical equipment, such as glucose monitors
- Sharing personal items such as toothbrushes or razors
- Poor infection control has resulted in outbreaks in health care facilities
Hepatitis C is spread when blood from a person infected with the Hepatitis C virus even in microscopic amounts enters the body of someone who is not infected. The hepatitis C virus can also be transmitted from:
- Sharing equipment that has been contaminated with blood from an infected person, such as needles and syringes
- Receiving a blood transfusion or organ transplant before 1992
- Poor infection control has resulted in outbreaks in health care facilities
- Birth to an infected mother
Symptoms Of Acute Viral Hepatitis
Acute viral hepatitis can cause anything from a minor flu-like illness to fatal liver failure Liver Failure Liver failure is severe deterioration in liver function. Liver failure is caused by a disorder or substance that damages the liver. Most people have jaundice , feel tired… read more . Sometimes there are no symptoms. The severity of symptoms and speed of recovery vary considerably, depending on the particular virus and on the person’s response to the infection. Hepatitis A and C often cause very mild symptoms or none at all and may be unnoticed. Hepatitis B and E are more likely to produce severe symptoms. Infection with both hepatitis B and D may make the symptoms of hepatitis B even more severe.
Symptoms of acute viral hepatitis usually begin suddenly. They include
A poor appetite
People with acute viral hepatitis usually recover in 4 to 8 weeks, even without treatment. However, some people infected with hepatitis B or C develop chronic infections.
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Who Should Get The Hepatitis B Vaccine
The hepatitis B vaccine is usually given in three doses over six months. The vaccine is recommended for:
- All children at birth
- All children and teens younger than 19 who have not been vaccinated
- Men who have sex with men
- People who live with or have sex with someone who is infected with hepatitis B
- People with more than one sex partner
- People who share equipment to inject drugs
- People with chronic liver or kidney disease
- People with HIV
- People younger than 60 with diabetes
- People whose jobs expose them to human blood or other body fluids
- Residents and staff of facilities for people with developmental disabilities
- People who travel to parts of the world where hepatitis B is common, such as Southeast Asia, sub-Saharan Africa, the Amazon Basin in South America, the Pacific Islands, parts of Eastern Europe, and parts of the Middle East. See the CDCs Travelers Health information page.
Hepatitis C: How Does It Spread
It spreads through infected blood. In the U.S., sharing needles or other items used to inject drugs is the most common cause of infection. Getting a tattoo or body piercing with an infected needle is another means of exposure. A mother may pass the virus to their child at birth. In rare cases, unprotected sex spreads hepatitis C, but the risk appears small. Having multiple sex partners, HIV, or rough sex seems to raise risk for spreading hepatitis C.
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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.
How Do You Get Hepatitis B
Hepatitis B is really contagious. Its transmitted through contact with semen , vaginal fluids, and blood. You can get it from:
having vaginal, anal, or oral sex
sharing toothbrushes and razors
sharing needles for shooting drugs, piercings, tattoos, etc.
getting stuck with a needle that has the Hep B virus on it.
Hepatitis B can also be passed to babies during birth if their mother has it.
Hepatitis B isnt spread through saliva , so you CANT get hepatitis B from sharing food or drinks or using the same fork or spoon. Hepatitis B is also not spread through kissing, hugging, holding hands, coughing, sneezing, or breastfeeding.
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Autoimmune Hepatitis Vs Hepatitis C
Having nothing to do with hepatitis A, B or C, autoimmune hepatitis is caused by an autoimmune reaction that tells the body to attack its liver. Although it is a distinct condition from hepatitis C, people sometimes confuse the two as symptoms do overlap . The causes of the diseases are quite different: AIH may have a genetic component, according to the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases meanwhile, hepatitis C is caused by a viral infection with no known genetic component.
Who Is At Risk
Anyone who has not been vaccinated or previously infected can get infected with the hepatitis A virus. In areas where the virus is widespread , most hepatitis A infections occur during early childhood. Risk factors include:
- poor sanitation
- living in a household with an infected person
- being a sexual partner of someone with acute hepatitis A infection
- use of recreational drugs
- travelling to areas of high endemicity without being immunized.
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What Is Viral Hepatitis
Hepatitis means inflammation of the liver. The liver is a vital organ that processes nutrients, filters the blood, and fights infections. When the liver is inflamed or damaged, its function can be affected. Heavy alcohol use, toxins, some medications, and certain medical conditions can cause hepatitis. However, hepatitis is often caused by a virus. In the United States, the most common types of viral hepatitis are hepatitis A, hepatitis B, and hepatitis C.
Who Gets Viral Hepatitis
Viral hepatitis is common in the United States and affects women and men. Hepatitis B and C are more common than hepatitis A.
- In 2015, hepatitis A affected an estimated 2,500 Americans. The percentage of people with hepatitis A has gone down by 95% since the hepatitis A vaccine became available in 1995.
Chronic hepatitis B may affect more than 1 million Americans. Asian-Americans and Pacific Islanders have the highest rates of hepatitis B infection. About 50% of the people living with Hepatitis B are Asian-Americans and Pacific Islanders.
Within this high-risk group, hepatitis B is usually passed from a mother to her baby during pregnancy. Babies born with hepatitis B are likely to have it their entire lives and are at higher risk of liver damage and liver cancer.
- Hepatitis C is the most common type of viral hepatitis infection in the United States. An estimated 3.5 million Americans have chronic hepatitis C. The CDC recommends that everyone born between 1945 and 1965 for hepatitis C because it is so common in this age group.
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Can Hepatitis Be Treated
There are no treatments to cure hepatitis A, aside from carefully monitoring liver function. If you know you have hepatitis A early enough, you might be able to stop the infection if you get a dose of the hepatitis A vaccine or something called hepatitis A immune globulin.
Hepatitis B, when chronic, can often be treated successfully. The most commonly used drugs to treat chronic hepatitis B are:
- Entecavir .
For hepatitis C, the following drugs are used:
- Simeprevir .
- Sofosbuvir sofusbuvir/velpatasvir sofusbuvir/velpatasvir/voxilaprevir ledipasvir/sofosbuvir .
- Ombitasvir/paritaprevir/ritonavir ombitasvir/paritaprevir/ritonavir/dasabuvir .
- Elbasivir/grazoprevir .
- Glecaprevir/pibrentasvir .
These new drugs are sometimes given with older drugs like ribavirin and peginterferon alfa-2a and peginterferon-2b. You might have to take these medicines for some time, even as long as six months.
If you have chronic hepatitis D, your doctor may prescribe drugs with interferons and might also add medicines for hepatitis B. Hepatitis E treatments include peginterferon alfa-2a and ribavirin.
Do I Need To Get Tested For Hepatitis C
Maybe. Most people with hepatitis C dont have any symptoms. This means you might have the infection without knowing it. The CDC recommends hepatitis C testing for some women without symptoms.
Ask your doctor about getting tested for hepatitis C if:
- You were born between 1945 and 1965
- You have ever injected drugs, even once
- You had a blood transfusion or organ transplant before 1992
- You received clotting factors made before 1987
- You have sex with or share needles with someone who has hepatitis C
- You have been on dialysis
- Your liver test results were not normal
- You have HIV
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Hepatitis B: What Happens
Many adults who get hepatitis B have mild symptoms for a short time and then get better on their own. But some people are not able to clear the virus from the body, which causes a long-term infection. Nearly 90% of infants who get the virus will carry it for life. Over time, hepatitis B can lead to serious problems, such as liver damage, liver failure, and liver cancer.
How Can I Protect Myself Against Viral Hepatitis
There are many ways you can reduce your chances of getting hepatitis:
- Get the vaccines for hepatitis A and hepatitis B.
- Use a condom during sex.
- Don’t share needles to take drugs.
- Practice good personal hygiene such as thorough hand-washing with soap and water.
- Don’t use an infected person’s personal items.
- Take precautions when getting any tattoos or body piercings.
- Take precaution when traveling to areas of the world with poor sanitation.
- Drink bottled water when traveling.
It is very important that you take these preventive measures if you participate in risky behaviors. Take preventive steps, too, if you work in places like a nursing homes, dormitories, daycare centers, or restaurants where there you have extended contact with other people and a risk of coming into contact with the disease.
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What Is The Treatment For Hepatitis
Each type of hepatitis is treated differently.
Hepatitis A often goes away on its own and home treatment is all that is needed to help the liver recover, such as:
- Avoiding alcohol
- Avoiding certain medicines that can be harmful to the liver
Hepatitis B often goes away on its own in about 6 months, and can also be treated at home with the above remedies. Other treatments for hepatitis B include:
- Antiviral medications
- Liver transplant in severe cases
Treatment for hepatitis C is effective on certain forms of the hepatitis C virus. The choice of medications depends on the type of hepatitis C you have, whether you have been treated for the illness before, how much liver damage has occurred, any other underlying medical issues, and other medicines you take. Treatment for hepatitis C usually involves 8 to 12 weeks of oral antiviral medications, such as:
Could I Give It To Other People
Yes. As long as you carry the virus, you can infect others. You may pass it on to your sex partner, to those who live in close contact with you, and to those who share your needles for injecting drugs. All of these contacts should be examined by a doctor. If they are not yet infected, they should be vaccinated.
Pregnant women who are carriers may pass hepatitis B on to their babies around the time of birth. Most infected infants become carriers. A pregnant woman should have a test for hepatitis B at her first visit to a doctor. If she is a carrier, the infant can be vaccinated at birth to protect against infection.
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How Serious Is It
- People can be sick for a few weeks to a few months
- Most recover with no lasting liver damage
- Although very rare, death can occur
- 15%25% of chronically infected people develop chronic liver disease, including cirrhosis, liver failure, or liver cancer
- More than 50% of people who get infected with the hepatitis C virus develop a chronic infection
- 5%-25% of people with chronic hepatitis C develop cirrhosis over 1020 years
How Is Hepatitis Diagnosed
Chronic hepatitis can quietly attack the liver for years without causing any symptoms. Unless the infection is diagnosed, monitored, and treated, many of these people will eventually have serious liver damage. Fortunately, blood tests can determine whether you have viral hepatitis, and if so, which kind.
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Can I Breastfeed My Baby If I Have Viral Hepatitis
Yes, you can breastfeed your baby if you have viral hepatitis. You cannot pass viral hepatitis through breastmilk.
But, if you have hepatitis C and your nipple or the surrounding skin is cracked or bleeding, stop nursing your baby on that breast until the sores heal. You can pump or hand-express your milk from that breast until it heals. Throw any breastmilk from that breast away, because it might have been contaminated with hepatitis C from the cracked or bleeding skin.
Pumping the breast that is cracked or bleeding will help keep up your milk supply and prevent the breast from getting overly full and painful. You can feed your baby your milk from your healthy breast.
How Is Hepatitis Treated
Someone who has hepatitis will need to drink enough fluids, eat healthy foods, and get rest. The person’s family members may need to get hepatitis vaccines, if they haven’t already.
Later on, the person will get follow-up blood tests. Often the blood tests will show that the person no longer has hepatitis. Sometimes, the blood tests may show that someone is now a carrier of hepatitis he or she won’t have hepatitis symptoms, but could pass the infection to other people.
Sometimes, blood tests will continue to show that some people still have hep B or C, which means they may have chronic hepatitis. If so, they will need to eat healthy foods and take very good care of themselves by getting rest and visiting the doctor regularly. In some cases, someone with chronic hepatitis may get special medicine for the condition.
We hope that this heads-up on hepatitis will help you stay safe. It may sound funny, but you can love your liver by washing your hands and making smart choices!
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What Are The Signs & Symptoms Of Hav Infection
Hepatitis A can be a mild infection, particularly in kids younger than 6. Many people might not ever know that they had an infection.
If someone does have symptoms, they usually start 2 to 6 weeks after the person was exposed to the virus. Someone with HAV might have:
- darker than usual urine
- abdominal pain
HAV infections that cause serious symptoms can last for weeks or even months. Some people with HAV can feel ill for up to 6 months.
I Have Viral Hepatitis And Am Pregnant Will My Baby Get The Virus
Maybe. Hepatitis B and C can be passed from a pregnant woman to her baby during childbirth.
If you have hepatitis B, the risk of passing the infection to your baby is higher than if you have hepatitis C. Make sure your baby gets HBIG and the first shot of hepatitis B vaccine within 12 hours of birth. Your baby will need two or three more shots of the vaccine over the next 1 to 15 months to help keep them from getting hepatitis B. The timing and total number of shots will depend on the type of vaccine and your babys age and weight. All babies should be vaccinated for hepatitis B. Talk to your doctor.
The hepatitis B vaccine is very important. Babies who become infected with hepatitis B have a 90% chance of developing chronic hepatitis B. One in four people infected at birth will die of hepatitis B-related causes such as liver cancer or liver failure. Your doctor will test your baby after the last shot to make sure he or she is protected from the disease.
- If you have hepatitis C, the risk of passing the virus to your baby is believed to be low, but it is still possible. The only way to know if your baby becomes infected is by doing a test. The CDC recommends testing a child after he or she turns 18 months old. Most infants infected with hepatitis C at birth have no symptoms and do well during childhood.
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Can Hepatitis B And C Be Prevented
Today, all babies get vaccinated against the hepatitis B virus in a series of three shots over a 6-month period. Doctors also recommend “catch-up” vaccination for all kids and teens younger than 19 years old who didn’t get the vaccine as babies or didn’t get all three doses.
Unfortunately, there’s no vaccine for hep C yet.