Unfortunately, Hepatitis C is extremely contagious (about 2% of the US population will contract He C at some point in their lives, while a little over 1% of the population will have chronic (permanent) Hepatitis C).
While Hepatitis C infection rates have declined since 1992 when infection control standards were exercised over donated blood, and everyone became aware of the risks, a slight uptick is being attributed to Baby Boomers who may have experimented with drugs or unprotected sex during the Vietnam era (even just once, and not just needle drugs-anything with a shared instrument passing between mouths and noses also counts as a risk).
Tattoo parlors are another high-risk place that have come up to date on hygiene practices only in the last two decades.
According to the Sun Sentinel, who reports the story, the median age for diagnoses is currently 55, and for the Baby Boomers, a generation likely to have come into contact with it during their youth, Hep C may have been lying silently in their liver, quietly damaging it during all these years.
The damage of the silent (acute) Hepatitis C starts to accelerate during middle age, likely because the immune system starts to weaken, allowing the HCV to grow stronger. Those who go undiagnosed are more likely to develop cirrhosis or cancer of the liver. Cancer of the liver has a low survival rate, so it is imperative that you get early testing.
Doctors generally donâ€™t recommend screening for anyone they donâ€™t perceive as high-risk, and many people donâ€™t report a one-time, long ago drug incident, so itâ€™s up to you to talk to your doctor.
A fact from the article: â€œOne drop of blood can contain 3-4 million virus particlesâ€.
It is difficult to find signs of Hepatitis C in the blood when the infection is mild, so if you think there is any chance you may have been exposed, be vigilant for any signs of Hep C, including:
- Loss of Appetite
- Nausea, Vomiting, and Abdominal Pain
- Gray-Colored Bowel Movements
- Joint Pain
You may also consider strengthening your immune system so that you can be in the percentage of people who naturally defeat acute Hepatitis C (look for natural antivirals).
Other ways to aid your liver include taking more antioxidants, and limiting consumption of certain foods, alcohol, and other substances that may stress the liver.
Do you have a story about your or a friends Hepatitis C diagnoses? If you feel comfortable, share in the comments, and help others know what it’s like to go through the process, and identify the symptoms in their own bodies.