Hepatitis C: Get Tested. Get Treated.
What is Hepatitis?
Hepatitis is a general term used to describe inflammation of the liver. The liver carries out many vital tasks, which include the distribution of nutrients within the bloodstream as well as filtering the blood of harmful waste and toxins. When the liver is inflamed, it is unable to do these tasks effectively. This can lead to complications, such as cirrhosis or liver cancer.
Hepatitis can be caused by a range of conditions, such as autoimmune disease, excessive alcohol and drug usage, or by the Hepatitis virus. Viral Hepatitis is often the main cause of hepatitis, with Hepatitis A, Hepatitis B and Hepatitis C being the most common in the United States. Though Hepatitis A, B and C share similar symptoms, they are caused by different factors. Hepatitis A and Hepatitis B are both vaccine-preventable, unlike Hepatitis C.
- Hepatitis A is transmitted person-to-person through fecal-oral route or consumption of contaminated food.
- Hepatitis B is transmitted through contact with infectious blood, semen and other bodily fluids.
- Hepatitis C is transmitted through contact with infectious blood.
(For more information on the difference between Hepatitis A, Hepatitis B and Hepatitis C, visit: https://www.cdc.gov/hepatitis/abc/index.htm )
The CDC estimates that there are over 2.4 million people in the United States living with the Hepatitis C virus, with only 50% of those infected aware of their condition. Hepatitis C, when left untreated, can lead to severe liver damage. It is a leading cause of liver transplants and liver cancer. The disease can be devoid of symptoms for years, making it very difficult to detect early. Symptoms usually present themselves once the disease has progressed into developing liver problems.
Hepatitis C symptoms may include:
- Loss of Appetite
- Joint Pain
- Dark-Colored Urine
The only way to know for sure if you have been infected is to get tested. This can be done by taking a simple blood test.
Who Should Get Tested for Hepatitis C?
Approximately 75% of people living with Hepatitis C were born between 1945 and 1965, the Baby Boomers generation. Adults born between these years are five times more likely to be infected and account for 73% of all deaths associated with the disease. The CDC recommends those born between those years to get tested. Other individuals at risk include:
- Intravenous and intranasal drug users
- HIV-infected persons
- Recipients of blood transfusions or organ donations prior to June 1992
- Infants of HCV-infected mothers
Hepatitis C Treatment
Though there is not yet a vaccine available for Hepatitis C, there is a cure. Treatment has drastically improved through the years with new medicines now having fewer side effects and shorter treatment periods. New, direct-acting antiviral drugs (DAAs) have shown through research to be highly effective in curing patients with a 95% to 100% cure rate.
Treatments that can cure this disease are available at GastroIntestinal Specialists. The Liver Center at GastroIntestinal Specialists, A.M.C., is the No. 2 prescriber of hepatitis medicine in the country. Our comprehensive team of providers is dedicated to evaluating, treating and caring for patients with Hepatitis C, along with many other liver conditions.
Get Tested. Get Treated.
Call (318) 631-9121 to make an appointment.