June 2024: It's Hepatitis Awareness Month : Phillips Health Care Newsletter

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June 2024: It's Hepatitis Awareness Month

by Phillips Clinic on 06/29/24

Hepatitis C Basics
Hepatitis C is a liver disease caused by the Hepatitis C Virus (HCV).
Many people with hepatitis C don't look or feel sick so might not know they have the virus.
Left untreated, hepatitis C can lead to serious liver problems, like scarring and cancer.

About Hepatitis C
Hepatitis C is a liver disease caused by Hepatitis C Virus. Hepatitis C can range from a mild illness lasting a few weeks to a serious, long-term illness.

Fast facts
Hepatitis C is one of the most common types of viral hepatitis in the United States.
It is estimated that more than 2.4 million people - and as many as 4 million people - had hepatitis C from 2017-2020. 1
After more than a decade of annual increases, the rate of acute hepatitis C declined for the first time in 2022.
Rates of acute hepatitis C were highest among non-Hispanic American Indian/Alaska Native people.
People ages 20–39 years had the highest incidence of acute hepatitis C.
More than half (52%) of cases with risk information were associated with using injection drugs.

The two types of hepatitis C are:

Acute hepatitis C
When someone is first infected with HCV, they can either have a very mild illness with few or no symptoms or a serious condition that could require hospitalization.

Less than half of people who get hepatitis C are able to clear the virus in the first 6 months after infection without treatment.

Chronic hepatitis C
Most people who get infected will develop a chronic, or lifelong, infection. Left untreated, chronic hepatitis C can cause serious health problems including liver disease, liver failure, liver cancer, and even death. Chronic hepatitis C is a leading cause of liver cancer and the leading cause of liver transplants in the United States.

Signs and symptoms
You can have hepatitis C even if you don't have any symptoms. ?
Many people with hepatitis C don't look or feel sick.
If you do develop symptoms, you will notice them 2-12 weeks after infection with the virus. Signs can include:

Dark urine or clay-colored stools
Feeling tired
Joint pain
Loss of appetite
Nausea, stomach pain, throwing up
Yellow skin or eyes (jaundice)
People with chronic hepatitis C are usually asymptomatic, meaning they do not have symptoms, or have general symptoms like chronic tiredness or depression. Yet even people without symptoms can spread the virus to others.

Keep Reading: Signs and Symptoms of Hepatitis C
How it spreads
Hepatitis C is spread when blood from an HCV-infected person — even microscopic amounts — enters the body of someone who is not infected. Because of how it spreads, certain life circumstances, jobs, and behaviors can increase your risk for hepatitis C.

It's important to know that even people who have cleared or been cured of the virus can be re-infected.

Screening, testing, and diagnosis
Hepatitis C usually doesn't have symptoms. Getting testing is the only way to know if you have hepatitis C.

Your doctor will draw blood to do an HCV antibody test that will show whether you have ever been infected with HCV.  If you have an active infection, your doctor will diagnose you with hepatitis C and get you started with treatment right away.

Most treatments involve 8–12 weeks of oral medication (pills). Treatment cures more than 95% of patients with hepatitis C, usually without side effects.

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