There are quite a few long term effects of hepatitis C virus.
Before we get in to the details on the effects of hep C, let’s discuss who is at most risk.
Yes, baby boomers with hep C are seriously at risk.
This can be mitigated with education and screening.
Need to address hepatitis C and begin treatment as soon as possible.
Among those infected with HCV, 75 to 85 percent will go on to develop chronic illness.
According to CDC figures, of those:
- 60–70 percent will develop chronic liver disease
- 5–20 percent will develop cirrhosis of the liver in 20–30 years
- 1–5 percent will die from cirrhosis or liver cancer
How long does it take for hep c to cause liver damage?
Hep C can cause liver damage in two ways:
- when hepatitis C virus goes from acute to chronic condition
- not treating the chronic hepatitis C condition
Hepatitis C virus, once infected is called a acute hepatitis C infection.
Not much liver damage is done in this period, usually.
Chronic condition of the hep C virus takes many years.
Approximately 20 years for the liver to be scarred.
Hep C damage to the liver varies from person to person.
Some people may get liver scarring in a few short years.
It really depends on many factors.
What is the lifestyle of the person?
Do they drink alcohol and have poor diet
If that’s the case their liver will be wrecked in no time.
Then genotype has to be considered.
Some people’s hep C genotype can be less or more challenging to treat.
So, there are many things to be considered.
It may not or may take a long time for hep C to cause liver damage.
Really depends on the person, their lifestyle and their hep C genotype.
What are the Long Term Side Effects of Hepatitis C Treatment?
First, we’ll go over the old hepatitis C treatment long term side effects (before 2014):
- Pegylated interferon-alfa (often referred to as peg interferon or just interferon)
- with ribavirin
Long term side effects are many for pegylated interferon-alfa with ribavirin.
Some of the most common long term side effects are:
- inability to sleep
- vomiting (nausea)
- feeling tired all the time (fatigue)
- low white blood cell count
- mood changes
- easily irritable
- anger comes easy
- urge to scratch all over you body
- general malaise similar to flu like symptoms
- bruising or swelling at the injection site for pegylated interferon-alfa
Those days of cruel days of interferon and ribavirin are gone.
Adherence to these treatments were less than 50%.
It was just too hard on the body.
Let’s fast forward to 2014.
This is when sofosbuvir came out.
Or Sovaldi (sofosbuvir 400mg).
This drug was a game changer.
It was effective against hepatitis C.
It had a very high cure rate.
The following year, 2015, Harvoni came out.
Harvoni (ledipasvir 90mg and sofosbuvir 400mg) was equally amazing as Sovaldi.
The new hepatitis C treatments belonged to a class called direct acting antivirals.
What are the long term side effects of hep C treatment with Harvoni, Sovaldi and Epclusa?
Harvoni, Sovaldi and Epclusa all have side effects but none of them are long term.
Side effects are negligible in most cases.
Most common side effects were:
- feeling of tiredness
- nausea (vomiting)
- change in moods
- sometimes diarrhea
They were rarely severe, if any.
In clinical trials less than 0.03% had serious side effects with these new hepatitis C treatments.
Serious side effects like anemia(low iron in blood) , heart rate (slowed) and severe tiredness (fatigue).
Overall new hepatitis C treatments did not have long term side effects.
For the most part they were well tolerated in all clinical trials.
The bad news for:
- Harvoni (ledipasvir 90mg and sofosbuvir 400mg),
- Epclusa (velpatasvir 100mg and sofosbuvir 400mg and
- Sovaldi (sofosbuvir 400mg)
These expensive hepatitis C treatments caused riots around the globe.
What happens if Hep C goes untreated?
Most (99%) of people couldn’t afford a $1,100 for one tablet a day hep C treatment.
The prices were through the roof, from $84,000 to $198,000.
For 12 weeks to 24 weeks of treatment.
The cost of Sovaldi and Harvoni were the long term side effects of hepatitis C treatment.
It would leave families in debt.
Or they could not afford it.
Insurance would not approve it because the costs.
How long can hep C go untreated?
Lot of people suffered.
Because their hep C went untreated.
Many people died.
Every year about 12,000 to 15,000 people die from hepatitis C.
About 30,000 die every year from cirrhosis of the liver.
Just in America.
Globally 400,000 people die every year from hepatitis C.
Many of these deaths can be prevented.
As long as they get access to hepatitis C treatment.
One ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.
In our nation, hep C screening should be vigorously promoted.
Hep C testing should be mandatory for all ages.
Generation Z (those in their late 20s and early 30s) have a high infection rate.
They represent, almost 17% of all new hep C infections.
Hepatitis C is a danger to the public and society in general.
Again, what happens when hep C goes untreated?
- scarring of the liver
- cirrhosis of the liver
- liver cancer
- liver failure
- blood problems
- heart problems
- mental health problems
- high blood sugar
- muscle and joint pain
- skin problems
- rheumatoid arthritis
- kidney disease
- nerve problems
Unfortunately, death is inevitable if you do not get treated for hepatitis C.
And that too, it must be done early enough in a timely manner.
Why Some people with hepatitis C were Lucky?
In about 15-25 percent of cases, acute HCV infection clears up without treatment, according to the CDC.
It’s unclear why this happens.
Serious hep C infections include or turn in to:
- cirrhosis of the liver
- liver cancer
- finally liver failure
These conditions may require several months (24 weeks or 6 months) of treatment.
That is a lot better than the worst alternative.
Long term effects of Hepatitis C can be dangerous to your health.
If you have HCV, you should see your doctor regularly so your condition can be monitored.
You can help keep your liver healthy by avoiding alcohol.
Some medications — even those sold over the counter — can damage your liver.
You should check with your doctor before taking medicines or dietary supplements.
Ask your doctor if you should be vaccinated for hepatitis A and B.
Blood tests will help your doctor assess the health of your liver over time.
Try to take care not to transmit the virus to others.
Keep cuts and scrapes covered.
Don’t share personal items like your toothbrush or nail clippers.
Don’t donate blood or semen.
Tell all your health care providers that you have hep C before they treat you.
If you’ve suffered severe liver damage, you may need a liver transplant.
However, this is not a cure.
The virus can attack your new liver.
It’s likely you’ll still need antiviral medication.
Studies have shown, hep C can be cured.
With the right treatment.
Even after a liver transplant.
What is hepatitis?
“Hepatitis” means inflammation of the liver.
Toxins, certain drugs, some diseases, heavy alcohol use, and bacterial and viral infections can all cause hepatitis.
Hepatitis is also the name of a family of viral infections that affect the liver; the most common types are Hepatitis A, Hepatitis B, and Hepatitis C.
What is the difference between Hepatitis A, Hepatitis B, and Hepatitis C?
Hepatitis A, Hepatitis B, and Hepatitis C are diseases caused by three different viruses.
Although each can cause similar symptoms, they have different modes of transmission and can affect the liver differently.
Hepatitis A appears only as an acute or newly occurring infection and does not become chronic.
People with Hepatitis A usually improve without treatment.
Hepatitis B and Hepatitis C can also begin as acute infections, but in some people, the virus remains in the body, resulting in chronic disease and long-term liver problems.
There are vaccines to prevent Hepatitis A and B; however, there is not one for Hepatitis C.
If a person has had one type of viral hepatitis in the past, it is still possible to get the other types.
What is Hepatitis C?
Hepatitis C is a contagious liver disease that ranges in severity from a mild illness lasting a few weeks to a serious, lifelong illness that attacks the liver.
It results from infection with the Hepatitis C virus (HCV), which is spread primarily through contact with the blood of an infected person.
Hepatitis C can be either “acute” or “chronic.”
Its best to get tested for hepatitis C.
Acute Hepatitis C virus infection is a short-term illness that occurs within the first 6 months after someone is exposed to the Hepatitis C virus.
For most people, acute infection leads to chronic infection.
Chronic Hepatitis C virus infection is a long-term illness that occurs when the Hepatitis C virus remains in a person’s body.
Hepatitis C virus infection can last a lifetime and lead to serious liver problems, including cirrhosis (scarring of the liver) or liver cancer.
These are just some of the long term effects of hepatitis C.
Long Term Effects of Hep C:
How common is acute Hepatitis C in the United States?
In 2014, there were an estimated 30,500 cases of acute hepatitis C virus infections reported in the United States.
How common is chronic Hepatitis C in the United States?
An estimated 2.7-3.9 million people in the United States have chronic hepatitis C.
How likely is it that acute Hepatitis C will become chronic?
Approximately 75%–85% of people who become infected with Hepatitis C virus develop chronic infection.
Hepatitis C Transmission / Exposure
How is Hepatitis C spread?
Hepatitis C is usually spread when blood from a person infected with the Hepatitis C virus enters the body of someone who is not infected.
Today, most people become infected with the Hepatitis C virus by sharing needles or other equipment to inject drugs. Before 1992, when widespread screening of the blood supply began in the United States, Hepatitis C was also commonly spread through blood transfusions and organ transplants.
People can become infected with the Hepatitis C virus during such activities as
- Sharing needles, syringes, or other equipment to inject drugs
- Needle stick injuries in health care settings
- Being born to a mother who has Hepatitis C
Less commonly, a person can also get Hepatitis C virus infection through
- Sharing personal care items that may have come in contact with another person’s blood, such as razors or toothbrushes
- Having sexual contact with a person infected with the Hepatitis C virus
Can Hepatitis C be spread through sexual contact?
Yes, but the risk of transmission from sexual contact is believed to be low.
The risk increases for those who have multiple sex partners, have a sexually transmitted disease, engage in rough sex, or are infected with HIV.
More research is needed to better understand how and when Hepatitis C can be spread through sexual contact.
Can you get Hepatitis C by getting a tattoo or piercing?
A few major research studies have not shown Hepatitis C to be spread through licensed, commercial tattooing facilities.
However, transmission of Hepatitis C (and other infectious diseases) is possible when poor infection-control practices are used during tattooing or piercing.
Body art is becoming increasingly popular in the United States, and unregulated tattooing and piercing are known to occur in prisons and other informal or unregulated settings.
Further research is needed to determine if these types of settings and exposures are responsible for Hepatitis C virus transmission.
Can Hepatitis C be spread within a household?
Yes, but this does not occur very often.
If Hepatitis C virus is spread within a household, it is most likely a result of direct, through-the-skin exposure to the blood of an infected household member.
How should blood spills be cleaned from surfaces to make sure that Hepatitis C virus is gone?
Any blood spills — including dried blood, which can still be infectious — should be cleaned using a dilution of one part household bleach to 10 parts water.
Gloves should be worn when cleaning up blood spills.
How long does the Hepatitis C virus survive outside the body?
The Hepatitis C virus can survive outside the body at room temperature, on environmental surfaces, for up to 3 weeks.
What are ways Hepatitis C is not spread?
Hepatitis C virus is not spread by sharing eating utensils, breastfeeding, hugging, kissing, holding hands, coughing, or sneezing.
It is also not spread through food or water.
Who is at risk for Hepatitis C?
Some people are at increased risk for Hepatitis C, including:
- Current injection drug users (currently the most common way Hepatitis C virus is spread in the United States)
- Past injection drug users, including those who injected only one time or many years ago
- Recipients of donated blood, blood products, and organs (once a common means of transmission but now rare in the United States since blood screening became available in 1992)
- People who received a blood product for clotting problems made before 1987
- Hemodialysis patients or persons who spent many years on dialysis for kidney failure
- People who received body piercing or tattoos done with non-sterile instruments
- People with known exposures to the Hepatitis C virus, such as
- Health care workers injured by needle sticks
- Recipients of blood or organs from a donor who tested positive for the Hepatitis C virus
- HIV-infected persons
- Children born to mothers infected with the Hepatitis C virus
Less common risks include:
- Having sexual contact with a person who is infected with the Hepatitis C virus
- Sharing personal care items, such as razors or toothbrushes, that may have come in contact with the blood of an infected person
What is the risk of a pregnant woman passing Hepatitis C to her baby?
Hepatitis C is rarely passed from a pregnant woman to her baby.
About 4 of every 100 infants born to mothers with Hepatitis C become infected with the virus.
However, the risk becomes greater if the mother has both HIV infection and Hepatitis C.
Can a person get Hepatitis C from a mosquito or other insect bite?
Hepatitis C virus has not been shown to be transmitted by mosquitoes or other insects.
Can I donate blood, organs, or semen if I have Hepatitis C?
No, if you ever tested positive for the Hepatitis C virus (or Hepatitis B virus), experts recommend never donating blood, organs, or semen because this can spread the infection to the recipient.
What are the symptoms of acute Hepatitis C?
Approximately 70%–80% of people with acute Hepatitis C do not have any symptoms.
Some people, however, can have mild to severe symptoms soon after being infected, including:
- Loss of appetite
- Abdominal pain
- Dark urine
- Clay-colored bowel movements
- Joint pain
- Jaundice (yellow color in the skin or eyes)
How soon after exposure to Hepatitis C do symptoms appear?
If symptoms occur, the average time is 6–7 weeks after exposure, but this can range from 2 weeks to 6 months.
However, many people infected with the Hepatitis C virus do not develop symptoms.
Can a person spread Hepatitis C without having symptoms?
Yes, even if a person with Hepatitis C has no symptoms, he or she can still spread the virus to others.
Is it possible to have Hepatitis C and not know it?
Yes, many people who are infected with the Hepatitis C virus do not know they are infected because they do not look or feel sick.
What are the symptoms of chronic Hepatitis C?
Most people with chronic Hepatitis C do not have any symptoms.
However, if a person has been infected for many years, his or her liver may be damaged.
In many cases, there are no symptoms of the disease until liver problems have developed.
In persons without symptoms, Hepatitis C is often detected during routine blood tests to measure liver function and liver enzyme (protein produced by the liver) level.
How serious is chronic Hepatitis C?
Chronic Hepatitis C is a serious disease.
It can result in long-term health problems:
- including liver damage,
- l iver failure,
- liver cancer, or
- even death.
It is the leading cause of cirrhosis and liver cancer and the most common reason for liver transplantation in the United States.
Approximately 19,000 people die every year from Hepatitis C related liver disease.
What are the long-term effects of Hepatitis C?
Of every 100 people infected with the Hepatitis C virus, about
- 75–85 people will develop chronic Hepatitis C virus infection; of those,
- 60–70 people will go on to develop chronic liver disease
- 5–20 people will go on to develop cirrhosis over a period of 20–30 years
- 1–5 people will die from cirrhosis or liver cancer
Hepatitis C Tests
Can a person have normal liver enzyme (e.g., ALT) results and still have Hepatitis C?
Yes. It is common for persons with chronic Hepatitis C to have a liver enzyme level that goes up and down, with periodic returns to normal or near normal.
Some infected persons have liver enzyme levels that are normal for over a year even though they have chronic liver disease.
If the liver enzyme level is normal, persons should have their enzyme level re-checked several times over a 6–12 month period.
If the liver enzyme level remains normal, the doctor may check it less frequently, such as once a year.
Who should get tested for Hepatitis C?
Talk to your doctor about being tested for Hepatitis C if any of the following are true:
- born from 1945 through 1965
- current or former injection drug user, even if you injected only one time or many years ago.
- were treated for a blood clotting problem before 1987.
- received a blood transfusion or organ transplant before July 1992.
- are on long-term hemodialysis treatment.
- have abnormal liver tests or liver disease.
- work in health care or public safety and were exposed to blood through a needlestick or other sharp object injury.
- are infected with HIV.
If you are pregnant, should you be tested for Hepatitis C?
No, getting tested for Hepatitis C is not part of routine prenatal care.
However, if a pregnant woman has risk factors for Hepatitis C virus infection, she should speak with her doctor about getting tested.
What blood tests are used to test for Hepatitis C?
Several different blood tests are used to test for Hepatitis C.
A doctor may order just one or a combination of these tests.
Typically, a person will first get a screening test that will show whether he or she has developed antibodies to the Hepatitis C virus.
(An antibody is a substance found in the blood that the body produces in response to a virus.)
Having a positive antibody test means that a person was exposed to the virus at some time in his or her life.
If the antibody test is positive, a doctor will most likely order a second test to confirm whether the virus is still present in the person’s bloodstream.
Can Long term Hepatitis C be treated?
Yes, acute and chronic hepatitis C can be treated.
Acute infection can clear on its own without treatment in about 25% of people.
If acute hepatitis C is diagnosed, treatment does reduce the risk that acute hepatitis C will become a chronic infection.
Acute hepatitis C is treated with the same medications used to treat chronic Hepatitis C.
However, the optimal treatment and when it should be started remains uncertain.
Can chronic Hepatitis C be treated?
Yes. There are several medications available to treat chronic Hepatitis C, including new treatments that appear to be more effective and have fewer side effects than previous options.
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) maintains a complete list of approved treatments for Hepatitis C.
Is it possible to get over Hepatitis C?
Yes, approximately 15%–25% of people who get Hepatitis C will clear the virus from their bodies without treatment and will not develop chronic infection.
Experts do not fully understand why this happens for some people.
What can a person with chronic Hepatitis C do to take care of his or her liver?
People with chronic Hepatitis C should be monitored regularly by an experienced doctor.
Patients need to understand the long term effects of hepatitis C right away.
They should avoid alcohol because it can cause additional liver damage.
They also should check with a health professional before taking any prescription pills, supplements, or over-the-counter medications, as these can potentially damage the liver.
If liver damage is present, a person should check with his or her doctor about getting vaccinated against Hepatitis A and Hepatitis B.
Hep C Vaccination?
Is there a vaccine that can prevent Hepatitis C?
Not yet. Vaccines are available only for Hepatitis A and Hepatitis B.
Research into the development of a hep C vaccine is under way.
Hepatitis C and Employment
The HCV infected should not be excluded from work, school, play, child care, or other settings because they have Hepatitis C.
There is no evidence that people can get Hepatitis C from food handlers, teachers, or other service providers without blood-to-blood contact.
Hepatitis C and Co-infection with HIV
What is HIV and Hepatitis C virus co-infection?
HIV and Hepatitis C virus co-infection is when both diseases are present.
Co-infection is more common in persons who inject drugs.
In fact, 50%–90% of HIV-infected persons who use injection drugs are also infected with the Hepatitis C virus.
Summary of Hepatitis C Facts
- Twenty-five percent of people with HIV also have HCV.
- Two to 10 percent of people with HCV also have HBV.
- HCV tends to progress faster in people with HIV.
- HCV is one of the top causes of liver disease, liver transplants, and the leading cause of death from liver disease.
- About 75 percent of adults with HCV are of the “baby boomer” generation.
- Chronic liver disease, which is often due to HCV, is a leading cause of death for African Americans.
- Rates of chronic HCV are higher for African Americans than for people of other ethnicity.
- HCV is not transmitted through coughing, sneezing, or being in close proximity to someone with HCV.
- HCV doesn’t pass through breast milk.
How to Avoid Long Term Effects of Hepatitis C?
- screen for hep C
- get a HCV test
- if positive find the genotype
- get the treatement
- complete the treatment
- get retested
- get cured.
Want to talk to a health advocate about long term effects of hepatitis C?
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Address: 6251 La Jolla Scenic Dr S, La Jolla, California, USA 92037
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