There are good reasons why hepatitis C is known as a “silent killer.”
An estimated 3.2 million Americans live with chronic illnesses, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. hepatitis C infection that is transmitted through infected body fluids such as blood and semen and causes inflammation of the liver. However, up to 75% of people with hepatitis C are unaware of hepatitis C.
Most people who live with the virus have only mild symptoms or are completely asymptomatic until they develop severe liver damage or another life-threatening liver disease. Unfortunately, that means undiagnosed and delayed treatment until after the onset of irreversible liver damage.
Here, hepatologist Nancy Reau, MD, Deputy Director of the Rush University Medical Center’s Solid Organ Transplant Program, describes people at risk for hepatitis C and provides advice on how to protect yourself. ..
1. The baby boomer generation is especially vulnerable.
“The hepatitis C virus had no name or screening test until 1989,” says Reau. “That is, people born between 1945 and 1965, a group called the” baby boomers, “have the highest risk of infection. They grew up before medical facilities began taking standard precautions, such as not sharing drug vials between patients and requiring staff to wear gloves. “
The CDC reports that baby boomers are five times more likely to have hepatitis C than other adults, accounting for 75% of people with the disease.
These are some other reasons you may be at risk:
- IV Engaged in high-risk behaviors such as substance use (including needle sharing) and unprotected sex
- Your real mother has / had hepatitis C
- You are infected with HIV / AIDS
- Received blood transfusion, organ transplant, or dialysis before 1989
- You were or are currently imprisoned
2. Screening tests are effective, but not standard.
Today, there are several blood tests to screen for hepatitis C. Unfortunately, the blood screening panels that primary care physicians order during their annual physical examination usually do not contain anything.
“If you have any of the above risk factors, talk to your doctor to ask for a test,” Reau advises.
3. From time to time, the infection disappears spontaneously.
Acute hepatitis is C, a short-term illness that occurs within the first 6 months of exposure to the virus.Like below Human papillomavirus (HPV), early acute hepatitis C, heals spontaneously without treatment. This happens with a probability of about 25%.
However, the virus is likely to remain in the body for more than 6 months, at which point it is considered a chronic hepatitis C infection.
“Young or female tends to be a factor in whether the virus is naturally cleared, and genetics can play a role,” Reau says. “But we can’t be sure who will clear the infection and who won’t.”
4. Prevention is the best medicine.
Hepatitis C rarely spreads in the home, but if you or your family have the disease, especially if someone in your home has a weakened immune system, or if you have cuts or openings that increase your risk. If you have pain, it is advisable to take precautions to prevent it from spreading. Of infectious diseases.
In general, use these common sense preventive tips.
- Practice safe sex unless you have a long-term monogamous relationship.
- Clean spilled or dry blood with a bleach-based cleaning solution and wear rubber gloves.
- Don’t share your razor.
- Do not share a toothbrush. “Hepatitis C is not transmitted through saliva, but toothbrushes can have blood in them,” Reau says.
5. Different from hepatitis A and hepatitis B.
Each form of hepatitis has its own specific virus that spreads and is treated in different ways. “Hepatitis simply means inflammation of the liver, or the virus has an affinity for damaging the liver,” says Reau.
- Hepatitis A is an acute short-term infection that often does not require treatment.
- Hepatitis B is hidden deep inside the body and, like hepatitis C, is treated in a variety of ways. Antiviral drug For liver transplantation.
“The viruses are different, but they can lead to serious liver disease and death, so we have to take everything seriously,” she adds.
6. Highly curable
Direct-acting antivirals (administered over 12 weeks) may actually cure early Acute hepatitis C is over 90% of the time. These drugs include Harboni (the brand name for the combination of Ledipasvir and Sofosbuvir) and Biekirapak (a mixture of Ombitasvir, Paritaprevir, Ritonavir and Dasabuvir).
However, some of these treatments can be expensive, so work with your insurance company to determine coverage.
Two new drugs for chronic hepatitis C are expected to be approved by late 2017 and are in clinical trials for additional treatment. “Pretreatment before serious liver disease is the key to achieving the best long-term improvement in your health,” says Reau.
7. Even if you heal, it can have lifelong health consequences.
“Hepatitis C is more than just a liver disease,” says Reau. “It is associated with many medical conditions, including diabetes, kidney disease, and an increased risk of developing cancer.”
Treatment of hepatitis C significantly reduces the risk of serious complications such as liver failure, liver cancer, and the need for a transplant, but it completely eliminates the health risks associated with the disease. Not.
“Hepatitis C is associated with liver scarring or cirrhosis, and the more scar tissue that develops, the more likely it is to be a complication,” Reau said. “If you have a lot of scars, you need lifelong monitoring.”
Reau also leads a healthy lifestyle to prevent reinfection and even more liver Injury: Limit alcohol intake, control weight, avoid high-risk activities (IV drug use, unprotected sex, etc.) and manage diabetes, if any.
8. Seek medical attention immediately if you notice any symptoms.
Symptoms of hepatitis C are:
- Jaundice — Yellowish tones on eyes and skin
- Mild chronic right abdominal pain
- Decreased appetite
Talk to your doctor as soon as possible if you suspect you have been exposed to hepatitis C or if you notice any symptoms. If the virus tests positive, your doctor can refer you to a hepatologist to discuss your options.
“I highly recommend everything Baby boomers Some people are at high risk of being tested, even if they don’t look or feel bad. If you have hepatitis C, the earlier you detect it, the more you can prevent it from progressing. Causes more serious damage. ”
Rush University Medical Center
Quote: Eight things you need to know about hepatitis C (July 20, 2021) were taken from https://medicalxpress.com/news/2021-07-hepatitis.html on July 20, 2021. It was.
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