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What Everyone Should Know About Hepatitis C

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If you’re not one who understands medical terminology and the different types of diseases that are spreading throughout the community, you may not be fully clear about what Hepatitis C is and how it can affect your health. The fact is that Hepatitis C can be a very debilitating viral disease that can in time, cause serious damage to the body’s liver. As WebMD explains, “Many people don’t know that they have hepatitis C until they already have some liver damage. This can take many years. Some people who get hepatitis C have it for a short time and then get better. This is called acute hepatitis C. But most people who are infected with the virus go on to develop long-term, or chronic, hepatitis C.”

The disease can be extremely serious and eventually debilitating in many ways. The danger lies in the fact that you could have the disease for many years without being aware of it. Most people live a normal lifestyle with normal routines while the disease is silently eroding away at your insides without you being aware of it. By the time it’s discovered, damage could already be done.

Symptoms

Most people do not show any symptoms of hepatitis C when they first contract the disease. Exposure to the virus usually comes from contact with another person’s infected blood. Those who do experience symptoms will feel fatigue, joint pain, belly pain, itchy skin, tender muscles, dark urine, or jaundice. It is important to understand that these symptoms are usually not evident until well after the disease has been contracted. It is not uncommon to find that people have been living with the disease for 15 years or more before being diagnosed.

Diagnosis

Sadly, most people discover their hepatitis purely by accident; either they needed to have their blood tested for something else, or as part of a regular checkup. It can be detected through a simple blood test – blood will have an unusually high level of liver enzymes in the blood.

If you suspect that you could have been exposed to hepatitis C at some point and you don’t want to go to a doctor just yet, there are also home tests you can buy at your local drugstore. Taking these tests will determine if you have been exposed to hepatitis C at some point, it is strongly advised that you go to see a doctor right away. He or she may recommend several different treatment options that might work best for you. As the Centers for Disease Control Points out, “Once infected with the hepatitis C virus, nearly 8 in 10 people remain infected for life. A simple blood test, called a hepatitis C antibody test, can tell if you have ever been infected, but cannot tell whether you are still infected. CDC data show only half of people with a positive hepatitis C antibody test had the follow-up test reported.”

For many, it will be a combination of medications to fight off the infection. However, if the tests show that you had it in the past but is now hepatitis free, you’ll be able to improve your health by building up your body’s natural defenses. With regular exercise and proper nutrition, you can prevent the progression of damage to your liver that can lead to even more serious medical problems in the future.

Who’s At Risk?

Once a person has been infected with hepatitis C, they are at a very high risk of being infected for life. If you fall into one of the high-risk categories, you should see a medical doctor for further testing to see if you’ve been exposed.

The Risk Categories:

Baby Boomers born between 1945 and 1965 Those who had blood transfusions before 1992 Health care workers with needle-stick accidents Injection drug users Infants born to infected mothers Those who practice high-risk sexual habits

Clearly, it is more important than ever as they come to understand the dangers associated with hepatitis C. Now there are many new advances in the different types of treatments and medications available to prevent the disease from taking over your life. According to Hep C 123, “Recent advances in the number and types of medications available to treat Hepatitis C give you and your doctor more options to consider when deciding on a treatment plan. These advances have made treatment regimens shorter in duration, less difficult to tolerate and more effective.”

As medical research continues to expand and provide treatments that can make our lives considerably simpler, there’s no reason why anyone should have to allow a disease like Hepatitis C to slowly erode their bodies. With more understanding of the disease and how to diagnose and treat it, people can have the hope of a future living a long and healthy life without having to suffer later on from a hidden villain lurking in their blood.