Born between 1945 and 1965? If “yes,” ask your doctor about a Hepatitis C blood test.
More than fifteen thousand people in the U.S. die every year from hepatitis C virus. Long-term untreated Hepatitis C can progress to liver failure and cancer.
According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control, one out of thirty baby boomers might be infected. Those at risk include history of injection drug use, blood transfusion or organ transplant, long-term hemodialysis treatment, liver disease, and sharp medical instrument sticks.
Hepatitis C is the leading cause of cirrhosis and liver cancer. It is the most common indication for liver transplantation in the U.S.. The virus is transmitted by blood contact from another person. Most infected people have no symptoms.
It is spread by donated blood, needles, instrument sticks in clinics and emergency rooms, multiple sexual partners, and personal care items contaminated with another person’s blood.
Symptoms include fever, fatigue, appetite loss, nausea, vomiting, abdomen pain, dark urine, clay-colored bowel movements, and joint aches. However, seventy to eighty percent of those infected have no symptoms.
Hepatitis A, B, and C are three different viruses. People can get hepatitis A through contaminated food or water, and symptoms persist for several weeks. Hepatitis B is spread in the same manner as Hepatitis C.
Hepatitis C symptoms begin several weeks to months after infection. Some people have no symptoms until liver function deteriorates over years. It is diagnosed by blood tests that measure liver function and virus antibody.
There are vaccines to prevent Hepatitis A and B; there are none for Hepatitis C.
“Life isn’t like a box of chocolates. It’s more like a jar of jalapenos. What you do today might burn your butt tomorrow.” Author unknown.
Famous people who have Hepatitis C: Pamela Anderson, Jim Nabors, Greg Allman, Jack Kevorkian, and Evil Knievel.
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The next blog post will give you a headache.