Get checked for Hepatitis C! What are you waiting for?
One in 30 baby boomers have been infected with hepatitis C, and most don’t even know it. Fewer than 30% have actually been tested.
What is hepatitis C? Often referred to as The Forgotten Virus, hepatitis C is a serious, blood born liver disease that affects millions of people and can be contagious. However, many people are living with hepatitis C without even knowing it.
Hepatitis C can either be acute or chronic. Acute hepatitis C occurs within the first six months of exposure to the virus and lasts a short time. In some cases, the body can get rid of the virus on its own. If this does not happen, the infection will become chronic. Chronic hepatitis C is serious and long-lasting. For most people with hepatitis C (75% – 85%), an acute infection becomes chronic.
The liver is one of the largest and most important organs of the body, and it works in many ways to keep the body healthy. If hepatitis C enters the body, it starts to damage the liver right away. Inflammation of the liver begins almost immediately, and over time that swelling causes scarring on the liver. If the scarring progresses, it can become severe and block the blood flow, called cirrhosis of the liver. When cirrhosis occurs, it stops the liver from working as it should and could cause permanent damage.
The most common modes of injection of hepatitis C are through exposure to small quantities of blood. This may happen through injection drug use, unsafe injection practices, unsafe health care, and the transfusion of unscreened blood and blood products. It is estimated that 71 million people are currently living with chronic hepatitis C infection. It is also estimated that 1 in 30 Baby Boomers has hepatitis C, which is why the CDC recommends that all people born 1945–1965 get tested. The rate at which hepatitis C progresses is different for each person. There are factors, however, which can affect how quickly hepatitis C progresses in the body. These factors include age, alcohol use, weight, and having AIDS/HIV.
Hepatitis C is a silent disease, meaning that many people live with this disease for years without symptoms. But by the time the symptoms appear, the liver could already be damaged. 20 % of liver cancer in the U.S. is caused by hepatitis C. If you experience any of the following symptoms, do not wait to seek out treatment.
- Dark urine
- Loss of appetite
- Joint pain
- Gray colored bowel movements
The sooner hepatitis C is treated, the better the chances are of being cured. There is currently no vaccine for hepatitis C, however, there are antiviral medicines which can cure more than 90% of people with hepatitis C infection. If you have any of the symptoms listed above, contact our office to discover how we can treat you.