Archive for September, 2012

Are You at Risk for Hepatitis C?

Posted in Health by Publisher, Port Of Harlem Snippets on September 17th, 2012

By Theo Hodge, Jr., MD

All too often serious medical concerns remain hidden until the damage done announces its presence. Many times this announcement is accompanied by irreversible consequences. Such is the case for Hepatitis C.

An estimated 3.2 million persons in the United States have chronic Hepatitis C virus infection. Most people do not know they are infected because they do not look or feel sick. Such a person can unwittingly spread the virus.

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, B, and 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 through contact with the blood of an infected person. Hepatitis C can be either “acute” or “chronic”.

Acute Hepatitis C

Acute Hepatitis C virus infection is a short-term illness that occurs within the first six months after someone is exposed to the Hepatitis C virus. For most people acute infection leads to chronic infection and 75%-85% of the people who become infected with Hepatitis C develop chronic infection.

Chronic Hepatitis C

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. 

Some people are at increased risk for Hepatitis C including:

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