The recommendations for testing, managing and treating Hepatitis C are important to know. It’s called a silent disease because you can be infected with Hepatitis C without realizing it. In fact, millions of Americans have Hepatitis C—and don’t know that they do.
Hepatitis C is a serious liver disease that can, over time, cause liver damage, liver failure, and even liver cancer. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, about 20 percent of people who are exposed to the virus are able to clear it from their body, but the majority of infected people are not.
So, lets take a look at recommendations for testing, managing and treating Hepatitis C.
How Hepatitis C Spreads
Hepatitis C is spread when infected blood enters the body of someone who is not infected. That can happen in a variety of ways. The most common way people are infected is by sharing needles or other equipment for intravenous drug injection. People who received a blood transfusion or organ transplant before 1992 (the year widespread screening of the blood supply began) may also be at risk.
Less frequently, Hepatitis C can be spread through sex, especially if someone has an STD or has sex with multiple partners. It can also be spread by receiving piercings or a tattoo with non-sterile equipment.
Symptoms of Hepatitis C
The majority of people who have Hepatitis C won’t notice any symptoms at all until liver damage occurs. Signs of liver disease include:
- bruising and/or bleeding easily
- poor appetite
- dark-colored urine
- itchy skin
- swelling in the legs
- weight loss
- fluid build-up in the abdomen
- spider-like blood vessels in the skin.
For those who do experience symptoms, they usually occur between two to 12 weeks after exposure but can take as long as 26 weeks to appear.
Treating Hepatitis C
In the past, Hepatitis C was treated with painful shots that amped up your whole immune system and only worked about half the time.
But huge advancements have been made in the treatment of the disease in recent years, and the disease is now considered largely curable with a 12-week regimen of oral combination drugs.
The only problem? You can’t cure what you don’t know you have.
Who Should Be Tested For Hepatitis C
Three in four people with chronic Hepatitis C are baby boomers (people born between 1945 and 1965), which is why the CDC recommends a blood test for Hepatitis C for anyone born during that time period.
The CDC also recommends testing for the following people:
- Anyone who has injected drugs, even just once or years ago
- Anyone with certain medical conditions, such as chronic liver disease or HIV
- Anyone who received donated blood or had an organ transplant before 1992
- Anyone with abnormal liver tests or liver disease
- Health and safety workers who have been exposed to blood on the job through a needle stick or injury with a sharp object
- Anyone on hemodialysis
- Anyone born to a mother with Hepatitis C
Hepatitis C is the number one cause of liver cancer and liver transplants. But getting tested for the disease is easy—and can lead to a simple treatment. You can also go talk to your doctor about testing for hepatitis. A simple blood test will tell you everything you need to know. You can request your appointment today. A quick consultation will also tell you what else you can do to protect your liver.