Preventing Hepatitis C

Preventing Hepatitis C

Hepatitis C (HCV) is a viral infection that targets and damages the liver. Hepatitis C is transmitted through the blood of an infected person. Without proper care and treatment, the virus can become a major health problem despite being nearly curable with today’s advancements. Because of this, preventing hepatitis C is important.

Early detection and rapid treatment are vital with hepatitis C. In addition to getting your health under control, it is also imperative to prevent the spread of hepatitis C by being mindful of blood contact.

Sharing Needles Increases Your Risk of Hepatitis C

Sharing needles and cocaine straws increase your risk of getting hepatitis C. Sharing anything, especially sharp objects, that may cause bleeding and comes in contact with your skin must be avoided. Quitting drugs for your health is already important, but even if you can’t, having your own equipment and practicing proper hygiene can help you avoid contracting hepatitis C.

Do Not Share Razors, Toothbrushes, and Nail Clippers

These personal hygiene items are what they should be: personal. Toothbrushes can make contact with bleeding gums; cuts while shaving is widespread; and so are small accidents while clipping your nails. Avoiding sharing these personal items and keeping them sterile for your own safety at all times is paramount.

Choose Your Tattoo Parlor Wisely

One of the other ways hepatitis C is commonly transmitted is getting tattoos and piercings with contaminated equipment. Ensure the person who is giving you a tattoo or piercing is licensed and that they change needles for every new customer. Additionally, a good tip to remember is that you must witness all the instruments leave their plastic package to make sure they are going to be used for the first time.

Medical Professionals

As avoiding contact with potentially contaminated blood is vital, those who work in healthcare must protect themselves with the proper gloves and clothing as they are a high-risk group.

Sexual Contact

Hepatitis C is not a sexually transmitted disease, and hepatitis C via sexual contact is rare. However, it is not impossible, so safe sex can prevent hepatitis C if you have risk factors. Those who are sexually active with multiple partners, gay men especially, are at an increased risk of getting hepatitis C. Menstrual blood can also lead to the transmission of hepatitis C if your partner is infected.

Getting tested continually, especially if you are at risk, is recommended for everyone to prevent hepatitis C silently progressing and damaging the liver.

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Hepatitis C vs Other Forms of Hepatitis

Forms of Hepatitis

Hepatitis refers to the inflammation of the liver tissue. All hepatitis types target the liver but can either be acute or chronic. Acute hepatitis typically lasts fewer than six months whereas chronic hepatitis is lifelong. While they all share some symptoms in common, there are three primary and six overall forms of hepatitis viruses that affect the liver.

1. Hepatitis A

Hepatitis A is transmitted through the feces of those infected with the virus. The virus is typically spread through oral contact with contaminated food due to poor hygiene. However, hepatitis A rarely results in liver failure and has a vaccination.

2. Hepatitis B

Hepatitis B is transmitted via bodily fluids, which can be primarily spread through sexual contact and sharing needles. Pregnant women who have hepatitis B can also pass the virus onto their child at birth. Hepatitis B increases the risk of liver diseases such as cirrhosis, liver failure, as well as liver cancer without treatment. Hepatitis B also has a vaccination.

3. Hepatitis C

Hepatitis C is spread through the blood of infected individuals. Sharing needles, contaminated blood transfusions, personal hygiene items such as razors, and in rare cases, sexual contact can cause the transmission of the virus. Hepatitis C does not yet have a vaccine and can result in liver failure and cancer without care and treatment.

4. Hepatitis D

Hepatitis D can also be contracted by those infected with hepatitis B as hepatitis D requires a protein produced by hepatitis B to target the liver. Just like hepatitis B, however, hepatitis D is also spread through contaminated blood; typically due to sharing needles, unscreened blood transfusions, and sexual contact.

5. Hepatitis E

Hepatitis E is the same as hepatitis A and transmitted via contaminated feces. Hepatitis E only differs from hepatitis A in where it is found, which is Asia.

6. Hepatitis G

Hepatitis G is a new type of the hepatitis virus and is still relatively rare. Hepatitis G is spread via sex, contaminated blood, and sharing needles, and the virus is usually asymptomatic.

While the advancements in medical science have lowered the incidence rate of most hepatitis viruses, hepatitis B and C are still the most common types, affecting nearly 5 million people in the United States combined.

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Vaccinating Against Hepatitis

Vaccinating Against Hepatitis

Hepatitis is a viral infection that causes inflammation in the liver. There are three types of the hepatitis virus: A, B, and C. Although these diseases are different, they typically cause similar symptoms such as fever, stomach pain, fatigue, muscle and joint pain, dark urine, and jaundice. The incidence rate of all types of hepatitis has been on the rise over the last 20 years, and while hepatitis A and B have vaccinations, hepatitis C is still without one. Therefore, it’s important to make sure you are vaccinating against hepatitis.

Hepatitis A Vaccination

Hepatitis A is transmitted through infected feces, specifically consuming foods that are contaminated with the virus. However, hepatitis A can also be transmitted via anal sex. Almost 20,000 people contract hepatitis A annually, but most go into remission within six months. Liver damage and failure are rare with hepatitis A.

There is a hepatitis A vaccine, which can be administered as soon as children turn two, is effective for up to 20 years and is covered by most health insurance coverages. People who should get vaccinated for hepatitis A are children, people who travel frequently and internationally, gay males, and those who use drugs regularly.

Hepatitis B Vaccination

Hepatitis B is spread via bodily fluids, resulting in up to 40,000 new cases every year. The primary ways hepatitis B is transmitted include sharing needles and sexual contact. Just as with hepatitis C, hepatitis B can also be passed onto a child at birth.

Since there is a vaccination available, it is especially important for children, intravenous drug users, people with multiple sex partners, inmates, medical professionals, and people who travel internationally to get vaccinated for the virus. Hepatitis B vaccination is needed to be repeated three times with set time frames apart. Similar to hepatitis A, most health insurance plans cover the expenses of the vaccination.

Hepatitis C Vaccination

Hepatitis C is spread via blood, affecting nearly 30,000 people every year. As hepatitis C can be asymptomatic until there is serious liver damage, in most cases, the virus becomes chronic and can lead to liver diseases like cirrhosis or even liver cancer without treatment. Hepatitis C has an unstable nature compared to hepatitis A and B, which is why there is still no vaccination for it.

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Treating Hepatitis C

Treating Hepatitis C

Hepatitis C is a viral infection that targets the liver, which causes inflammation in the liver and can lead to liver damage and diseases. In most cases, people with hepatitis C do not become aware of they have hepatitis C until they begin to show symptoms related to liver damage or disease. This means that treating hepatitis C can be a challenge.

Hepatitis C can be diagnosed with blood tests as well as liver function tests. Liver function tests work by measuring the amounts of albumin and bilirubin. In some cases, your doctor may also order a liver biopsy for further examination.

What Are the Symptoms of Hepatitis C?

A lot of individuals with hepatitis C do not show any signs of the viral infection until there is some liver damage. However, one of the primary hepatitis C symptoms is a persistent pain, particularly in the abdomen below the rib cages.

Coupled with muscle pain and stomach pain, most people also experience fatigue, fever, nausea, itching, and dark urine. Along with nausea, hepatitis C can also cause diarrhea, vomiting, dehydration, loss of appetite, and headaches.

Jaundice is also a common symptom of hepatitis C. Jaundice refers to the discoloration of the whites of the eyes and parts of the skin, usually a yellowish color which is associated with liver failure.

What Causes Hepatitis C?

Hepatitis C is primarily transmitted via contact with contaminated blood. Sharing needles is one of the primary causes of hepatitis C, which is why intravenous drug users are a higher risk of getting hepatitis C.

Getting tattoos and piercings with unsterile equipment that can potentially be contaminated with the virus can also cause hepatitis C. Sharing personal hygiene products like razors and toothbrushes can also put you at risk of getting hepatitis C. Although hepatitis C is not considered a sexually transmitted disease, cuts, sores, and menstrual blood can lead to the exposure of the virus during sexual contact with an infected individual.

Before 1992, blood donations were not screened for hepatitis C, so those who had had a blood transfusion prior to that date may also be infected with hepatitis C. Finally, pregnant women who have hepatitis C can pass the virus onto their child at childbirth.  

How Is Hepatitis C Treated?

The primary hepatitis C treatment is antiviral drugs to eliminate it from the body and prevent further complications associated with the virus. Antiviral medications are typically taken for up three months once daily. In severe cases where the liver is dangerously damaged, a liver transplant is also an option to prolong the patient’s life and improve their quality of life. Although liver transplantation comes with risks and generally involves a long wait list, it can be necessary in some patients’ cases.

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Hepatitis C Explained

Hepatitis C

Hepatitis C is a virus that causes liver damage. Without care and treatment, the viral infection can lead to liver diseases, including liver cancer. Affecting up to 4 million Americans alone, hepatitis C goes unnoticed until it begins to take its toll on the liver, and the patient starts to exhibit symptoms related to liver damage. In fact, it may take several years for an individual with hepatitis C to start showing symptoms.

Understanding Hepatitis C

The liver is a vital organ responsible for battling infections, flushing out pathogens, and digestion. Hence, when it is in distress and under attack, this begins to impact the whole body with a wide array of taxing symptoms. When hepatitis C targets the liver, the symptoms that most people exhibit are fatigue, muscle pain, nausea, loss of appetite, fever, stomach pain, itching, and dark urine.

It can be detected with a blood test, which can also identify the type of the virus.

Without a test, most people do not find out about their status until such time they begin to suffer from symptoms related to liver damage or disease. Once the virus severely impairs the liver, these are some of the signs and symptoms you should look out for: diarrhea, fever, jaundice, loss of appetite, dark urine, ankle swelling, stomach discomfort, and prolonged bleeding.

In the cases where the hep C virus cannot be destroyed, without treatment, the infection can result in cirrhosis. Cirrhosis symptoms are fatigue, weight loss, nausea, spider veins, and jaundice.

Treating Hepatitis C

Hepatitis C treatment depends on the genotypes, the severity of liver damage, medical history, and viral load. Unfortunately, medications are costly, come with adverse side effects, and are not effective in all patients. In most cases, most people get diagnosed when they already have chronic hepatitis C.

It is primarily treated with antiviral drugs to prevent liver diseases and cancer and typically taken for three months to a year such as ribavirin or peginterferon. However, with the recent treatments, hepatitis C virus can become undetectable in the blood after a few months of treatment.

Getting enough rest, giving up alcohol, and following your treatment to a T is essential. In advanced cases where the liver is severely damaged, a liver transplant can also be an option to prolong life and improve the quality of life.

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Treatment Advancements for Hepatitis C

Hepatitis C

Hepatitis C is a viral infection that targets the liver, resulting in complications such as liver damage, cirrhosis, and even liver cancer in severe cases. Thankfully, there has been substantial progress in the way hepatitis C is treated over the past few years, and the new hepatitis C treatments can nearly eliminate the virus within three months.

Here are the newest forms of hepatitis C treatments that have broken new ground.

Harvoni — Harvoni is an FDA-approved chronic hepatitis C medication composed of two drugs called ledipasvir and sofosbuvir. The medication is taken daily and highly effective in curing hepatitis C. However, Harvoni is quite costly so it is not an option for every patient. The side effects of the drug include nausea, diarrhea, headaches, and fatigue.

Ribavirin — Ribavirin is typically taken twice per day with a combination of other hepatitis C drugs and can be used by both adults and kids. As ribavirin comes with an increased risk of heart attack, people with heart disease cannot go on ribavirin.

Ribavirin can also result in anemia, so people who are anemic can only take the medication in small doses. Some common side effects ribavirin is associated with include headaches, muscle pain, stomach pain, nausea, anxiety, coughing, drowsiness, fatigue, and fever.

Daklinza — This new medication is used for hepatitis C with genotype 3 in combination with Sovaldi and can stop the life cycle of hep C at any stage. This combination of drugs is taken for three months once per day, but if there is considerable liver damage or cirrhosis, a drug called ribavirin can also be added to the daily regimen. The side effects that Daklinza most commonly causes are fatigue and headaches.

Your doctor will be able to determine which new hepatitis C treatment is the right option for your specific case depending on your risk factors and the condition of your liver and will combine a new treatment with a traditional medication if needed to increase the efficacy.

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Hepatitis C Transmission Risks

Hepatitis C Transmission

Hepatitis C is a viral infection that is spread via blood. Without treatment, hepatitis C mainly targets the liver and can lead to serious liver damage and even liver cancer over time. The downside of hepatitis C is that people with the virus do not exhibit any signs and symptoms until it starts to damage their liver. Here are the most common forms of Hepatitis C transmission.

Sharing Needles

Any exposure to infected blood increases the risk of getting hepatitis C. Hepatitis C is most commonly spread through sharing needles. People who use intravenous drugs are at an increased risk of hepatitis C due to sharing needles. Getting tattoos and piercings with unsterile equipment is also high-risk and another way hepatitis C can be spread.

Blood Transfers

The primary way hepatitis C is transmitted is via blood, so it can also be spread via infected blood transfusions. Until 1992, blood donations were not being screened for the virus, so many individuals with hepatitis C got infected before 1992.

Sex

Although transmission via sexual contact is not common, exposure to blood is still possible if a sexual partner is infected with hepatitis C. Small cuts, for instance, can increase the risk of transmission. Even though they are fully effective, using protection during sex is important to prevent transmission.

Mother to Child

Though not very common, pregnant women who have hepatitis C can potentially pass the virus onto their child at birth. Mothers who have the hepatitis C virus should also avoid breastfeeding to prevent transmission.

Toothbrushes and Razors

Even though this is not very common as well, sharing personal hygiene products like toothbrushes and razors that can make contact with infected blood can also put you at a risk of getting hepatitis C. While the likelihood is very small, but sores in the mouth or cuts while shaving can contaminate razors and toothbrushes.

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What Causes Hepatitis C?

Causes Hepatitis C

Hepatitis C is a liver condition caused by the hep C virus. Without treatment, the viral infection can lead to liver damage and even cancer. So what causes hepatitis C?

Affecting nearly 4 million people in the United States alone, most individuals with the virus do not become aware of their condition until they start experiencing symptoms related to liver damage. Most people are unaware that they have hepatitis C until it has already caused some damage to their liver as it can take years for an individual to exhibit hepatitis C signs.

Hepatitis C Signs

Hepatitis C is typically asymptomatic following exposure to the virus. However, the virus can begin to take its toll on the liver before people start showing any symptoms.

When people with hep C begin to exhibit symptoms, they are typically joint and muscle pain, fatigue, abdominal pain, and dark urine. Hepatitis C can also cause itchy skin and jaundice, which causes yellowish discoloration on the skin and in the eyes. Jaundice often occurs when the primary symptoms begin to subside.

What Causes Hepatitis C?

The most common way hepatitis C is transmitted is via blood, and typically due to sharing infected needles. The United States only began testing blood donations for the hep C virus after 1992, so those who had a blood transfusion before 1992 should get screened if they are already not aware of their status. Just as with sharing needles, getting tattoos and piercings with unhygienic and potentially infected equipment is another common way hep C is transmitted.

Though the incidence rate is low and hepatitis C is not a sexually transmitted disease, sexual contact can also be a concern if the person is infected with the virus. Pregnant women who have hepatitis C can also pass the virus onto their child. However, you cannot get hepatitis C by kissing, sharing utensils, physical contact, and sneezing. Hep C requires one to be exposed to the blood of an infected individual.

Treating Hepatitis C

Though it may not be the appropriate course of treatment for everyone, antiviral medications are typically used to treat the virus. Every case is separate and pertains individual risks, so your doctor ultimately makes the decision as to whether antivirals are the best option depending on the severity of your case and liver damage incurred. There are both standard and newer treatment options to both improve symptoms and prevent the virus from leading to further complications.

Adopting healthier lifestyle choices to keep your immune system and lungs healthy such as regular exercise and a healthy diet is also essential. With today’s advancements, without having a cure, hep C can be considered cured when the virus can no longer be detected in the blood.

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