Hepatitis C is an infectious disease affecting the liver. According to reports there are about 2 to 5 million people infected with this disease in the United States alone. Worldwide, health agencies predict that 3.33% of the population is infected with this infectious disease. There is a large possibility, however, that this number is understated, because Hepatitis C is a sneaky disease – most of the time it does not have symptoms. As such, many people can be infected with it already and not know about it. This makes recognizing Hepatitis C a difficult undertaking. Below is a guide that can help you recognize the disease.
Know if you are at risk. As mentioned above, detecting if you have Hepatitis C can be very difficult. It will be easier for you to recognize its symptoms if you know whether you are at risk for it. So who are the people most at risk for Hepatitis C?
- Needle-sharing drug users. Sharing needles is the most common way to get infected by the Hepatitis virus in the United States.
- Blood and organ donors. If you got pricked by a needle used on someone who had Hepatitis C, then the virus will infect you, too. As a policy, health facilities are not supposed to use the same needle twice. People who donated blood or organs before July 1992 should have themselves checked for Hepatitis C.
- Children of women with Hepatitis C infection. Children get in contact with the blood of their mothers inside the womb. If your mother has been diagnosed with Hepatitis C infection, you should get tested for the virus as soon as possible.
- People with multiple sex partners. Sexual intercourse with a person positive for Hepatitis C infection can put you at risk to acquiring the disease. If you are used to having multiple sexual partners, it is better to get yourself regularly tested for Hepatitis C and sexually-transmitted diseases.
- People on hemodialysis. People on hemodialysis are susceptible to Hepatitis C infection because their immune system is already weak or compromised as a result of the hemodialysis.
- HIV-positive patients. HIV weakens the immune system of the host, making them more susceptible to viral infections like Hepatitis C.
- People who got tattoos or body piercing from questionable places. It’s a fact that some tattoo parlors or tattoo artists do not use sterile equipment. If you doubt the hygienic practices of your tattoo artist, it’s better to get yourself tested for Hepatitis C infection.
Get acquainted with the symptoms of Hepatitis C infection. The symptoms of Hepatitis C can take years to manifest, so once you recognize them in yourself, better get to the doctor fast. Here are the symptoms that you should look out for:
- Abdominal and joint pain
- Clay-colored feces
- Loss of appetite
- Dark urine
This is just a simple guide to recognizing Hepatitis C in yourself and the people you know. Keep in mind that Hepatitis C is a curable disease, and the key to surviving this disease is early detection.