What Are The Risk Factors For Hepatitis B And C
Hepatitis B: Although most commonly acquired early in life, adults can also contract it. Hepatitis B is largely transmitted through bodily fluids. It can be passed at birth from a hepatitis B-infected mother or through exposure in early childhood to body fluids, blood or contaminated medical instruments. Hepatitis B can also be transmitted through intranasal and injection drug use as well as infected tools used during tattooing and body piercing.
Hepatitis C: The key risk factors are also intranasal and injection drug use, tattoos and body piercings, high-risk sexual contact, blood transfusions before 1992 and organ transplantation.
Another key risk factor for hepatitis C is being born from 1945 to 1965, during the baby-boom years. Eighty percent of all people who currently have hepatitis C in the United States were born in that timeframe.
Although the reasons that baby boomers are more likely to have hepatitis C than others arent entirely understood, its believed that most were infected in the 1970s and 1980s, when rates of hepatitis C were at their peak.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force recommend that all U.S. adults born from 1945 to 1965 undergo a one-time screening test for hepatitis C. Connecticut is one of several states that has written this recommendation into law. In Connecticut ,the law requires that primary care clinicians screen all adults born within those years.
Frequent Hepatitis C Symptoms
The symptoms of liver failure include generalized flu-like symptoms, as well as more specific signs of liver involvement because the virus targets the liver. Common hepatitis C symptoms that occur in both the acute and chronic phase of HCV infection generally last longer and are more severe during the chronic stage of the infection.
The most common hepatitis C symptoms include symptoms that are not specific to hepatitis and occur with most infections. These symptoms are largely due to the activity of the bodys own immune system as it fights the virus.
The most common symptoms of acute and chronic HCV include:
Some of the symptoms of acute and chronic stage HCV are similar to the symptoms of any liver disease.
- Bleeding and Bruising: The liver plays a role in producing proteins that aid in blood clotting, which is part of healing from an injury. Bleeding and bruising can be signs of liver dysfunction, resulting from the viral attack on the liver, as well as the bodys inflammatory response to the virus.
- Dark-colored urine: The build-up of bilirubin, which is produced when the liver is infected or impaired, can cause jaundice, as well as the dark coloring of the urine , and pale or chalky stools.
- Pale or chalky stools
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What Is Hepatitis C And How It Affects The Body
What is Hepatitis C?
This is a virus of the liver caused by the Hepatitis C Virus or HCV. The virus infects the liver and leads to serious damage. The virus is very contagious. Its severity ranges from having a mild illness that may last only a few weeks to getting infected by another virus that may be life-altering, life-threating and may last for a prolonged period of time.
Just like Hepatitis B, this virus also has two different forms with completely different consequences from the other. These are:
Acute Hepatitis C: This virus doesnt last long. A person who gets infected with this type usually gets better once they virus goes away. Mainly the virus doesnt last that long either.
Chronic Hepatitis C: This type is more contagious. It can last long and lead to severe liver ailments like long term damage, liver failure, cirrhosis, and even liver cancer.
Hepatitis C is as harmful as B but people who have it can still lead a full, healthy and active life. Its all about managing the disease in the proper way and taking care of oneself.
How Does Hepatitis C Affect the Body?
Primarily, the virus infects the liver. In many cases, the virus goes away by itself and doesnt do much harm, but in those cases where the virus lasts longer, it can have severe consequences on the liver. It can lead to liver failure, cause liver cancer or cirrhosis. In other cases, the liver can be seriously and severely damaged.
How Does it Get Transmitted in the Body?
Symptoms of Hepatitis C
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Complications Of Hepatitis C
If the infection is left untreated for many years, some people with hepatitis C will develop scarring of the liver .
Over time, this can cause the liver to stop working properly.
In severe cases, life-threatening problems, such as liver failure, where the liver loses most or all of its functions, or liver cancer, can eventually develop.
Treating hepatitis C as early as possible can help reduce the risk of these problems happening.
You Have Trouble Absorbing Nutrients
One of the livers main jobs is to produce bile, a fluid that helps with digestion. More specifically, bile breaks down fats into fatty acids that your body can absorb through the intestines and use for energy. Bile also carries waste products to the intestines to be eliminated. But when the liver is obstructed by scar tissue, bile cant be produced or used properly. As a result, your intestines cant absorb fats or fat-soluble vitamins the way they should, leading to nutrient deficiencies.
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What Type Of Doctor Treats Hepatitis C
Hepatitis C is treated by either a gastroenterologist, a hepatologist , or an infectious disease specialist. The treatment team may include more than one specialist, depending on the extent of liver damage.Surgeons who specialize in surgery of the liver, including liver transplantation, are part of the medical team and should see patients with advanced disease early, before the patient needs a liver transplant. They may be able to identify issues that need to be addressed before surgery can be considered. Other persons who can be helpful in managing patients include dietitians to consult on nutritional issues and pharmacists to assist with management of drugs.
Getting Tested For Hepatitis C
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.
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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.
How Will I Know If My Treatment Works
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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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.
What Is The Prognosis For Someone Who Has Hepatitis C
You can continue to lead an active life even if you are diagnosed with hepatitis C. People with the disease can work and continue their regular daily activities. However, it is very important that you see a specialist as soon as you are diagnosed with hepatitis C. There are many treatments available that can cure the virus.
To maintain a healthy lifestyle, patients should:
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How Many People Have Hepatitis C
During 2013-2016 it was estimated that about two and half million people were chronically infected with HCV in the United States. The actual number may be as low as 2.0 million or as high as 2.8 million.Globally, hepatitis C is a common blood-borne infection with an estimated 58 million people chronically infected according to the World Health Organization.
What Are The Symptoms Of Hepatitis C
Most people infected with hepatitis C have no symptoms. Some people with an acute hepatitis C infection may have symptoms within 1 to 3 months after they are exposed to the virus. These symptoms may include
- yellowish eyes and skin, called jaundice
If you have chronic hepatitis C, you most likely will have no symptoms until complications develop, which could be decades after you were infected. For this reason, hepatitis C screening is important, even if you have no symptoms.
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Curative Therapies For Hepatitis C
Current therapy to cure hepatitis C relies on oral antiviral medications taken for 8 to 16 weeks. Injection therapy is no longer used. The duration of therapy and the suitable regimen may depend on disease severity and viral genotype. Recent advancements in hepatitis C therapies have boosted cure rates to greater than 95% for nearly all individuals. Remarkably, tolerability has also improved dramatically, typically with only mild side effects if any at all. The following is an overview of most commonly used therapies in Canada.
Cost Of Hepatitis C Medicines
The newer direct-acting antiviral medicines for hepatitis C can be costly. Most government and private health insurance prescription drug plans provide some coverage for these medicines. Talk with your doctor about your health insurance coverage for hepatitis C medicines.
Drug companies, nonprofit organizations, and some states offer programs that can help pay for hepatitis C medicines. If you need help paying for medicines, talk with your doctor. Learn more about financial help for hepatitis C medicines.
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Recent Increases In Hepatitis C Infections
Between 2013 and 2020, the reported number of acute HCV infections more than doubled. High rates of new infections were predominantly among young adults aged 20-29 years and aged 30-39 years. The number of cases continues to increase, in 2020 an estimated 66,700 new HCV infections occurred in the United States. For the most recent surveillance data visit CDC Viral Hepatitis Surveillance.
What Are Signs Of Hepatitis C
When you first get hepatitis C, it is called acutehepatitis C. About 15% of people who have acutehepatitis C infection clear the virus from their bodies.The other 85% of people develop a chronic hepatitis C infection. Of these, 50 to 80%, if treated,may be cured.
Acute hepatitis C: Most people with acutehepatitis C do not have any signs. If signs occur, theaverage time is 6-7 weeks after exposure, but can beless or more. Some people can have mild to severesigns including:
- Yellow skin or eyes
- A longer than normal amount of time for bleeding to stop
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How Are Hepatitis B And Hepatitis C Spread From Person To Person
Like HIV, the hepatitis B and hepatitis C viruses spread:
- From mother to child: Pregnant women can pass these infections to their infants. HIV-HCV coinfection increases the risk of passing on hepatitis C to the baby.
- Sexually: Both viruses can also be transmitted sexually, but HBV is much more likely than HCV to be transmitted sexually. Sexual transmission of HCV is most likely to happen among gay and bisexual men who are living with HIV.
How Is It Spread
Hepatitis C virus is mostly spread by blood from aninfected person when:
- Sharing needles or other equipment to inject drugs. This is the most common way people get hepatitis C in the U.S.
- Getting a needle stick with a needle that was used on an infected person
- Sharing items that may have come in contact with another person’s blood, such as razors, nail clippers, pierced earrings, toothbrushes
- Being tattooed or pierced with tools that were used on an infected person
- Having sexual contact with a person infected with the hepatitis C virus. The risk of getting hepatitis C from sexual contact is thought to be low.
Hepatitis C is rarely spread from a blood transfusion because:
- Hepatitis C tests are done on all donated blood.
- Blood and blood products that test positive for hepatitis C are safely destroyed. None are used for transfusions.
- There is no risk of getting hepatitis C when donating or giving blood.
Hepatitis C is not spread by kissing,hugging, coughing, or sharing food and eating utensils.
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How Does Hepatitis Affect The Body
Typically, symptoms for all types of hepatitis occur once the infection begins causing damage to the liver. In acute cases, symptoms develop quickly and in chronic instances, signs may take up to 6 months to begin showing concern.
General signs and symptoms for acute and chronic hepatitis
All hepatitis types will have the following signs and symptoms in common:
- Flu-like symptoms
Other signs and symptoms for hepatitis B and D
- Abdominal discomfort
- Tan-coloured stools
All symptom for hepatitis B must be assessed and treated by a medical professional as quickly as possible to prevent an infection developing into HDV and further health complications. If you are exposed to the virus and can seek treatment within the first 24 hours following exposure, an infection can be prevented with prompt medical attention.
A HDV infection may not always display obvious symptoms but when they do, they are very similar to those of hepatitis B. Symptoms of HDV can often make those of HBV worse, which can make diagnosis a little trickier.
Other signs and symptoms for hepatitis C
- Abdominal discomfort
If there are already signs of damage to your liver, you will display the following symptoms:
Other signs and symptoms for hepatitis E
- Liver enlargement
Non-viral hepatitis signs and symptoms
What Are The Signs & Symptoms Of Hcv Infection
Most people with HCV have no symptoms. But even without symptoms, they can develop health problems decades later and can still pass the disease to others.
- nausea, vomiting, and lack of appetite
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How Is Hepatitis C Spread
Hepatitis C spreads through contact with the blood of someone who has HCV. This contact may be through:
- Sharing drug needles or other drug materials with someone who has HCV. In the United States, this is the most common way that people get hepatitis C.
- Getting an accidental stick with a needle that was used on someone who has HCV. This can happen in health care settings.
- Being tattooed or pierced with tools or inks that were not sterilized after being used on someone who has HCV
- Having contact with the blood or open sores of someone who has HCV
- Sharing personal care items that may have come in contact with another person’s blood, such as razors or toothbrushes
- Being born to a mother with HCV
- Having unprotected sex with someone who has HCV
Before 1992, hepatitis C was also commonly spread through blood transfusions and organ transplants. Since then, there has been routine testing of the U.S. blood supply for HCV. It is now very rare for someone to get HCV this way.