SharpFacts on Hepatitis C and Below "C" LevelSubmitted by SharpHealth Team on Saturday 9th October 2010
- What is Hepatitis C?
- What are the symptoms and treatments for this form of hepatitis?
- Hepatitis D, E, F and G (or, Below "C" Level)
In detailed in previous SharpHealth articles on Hepatitis A and Hepatitis B, hepatitis is a highly infectious virus that damages the liver, the organ responsible for processing nutrients from food and eliminating toxins from your blood.
This installment of our SharpHealth series on hepatitis focuses on a variant of this virus identified as "C," but also includes information on hepatitis variants D, E, F and G:
The Facts On Hepatitis C
Hepatitis C (also known as HCV) is one of the smallest (as in size) viruses known to scientists. It’s also one of the biggest problems known to SharpMen. It may not get the media attention afforded to other forms of hepatitis and other diseases, but HCV has affected SharpMen for over two hundred years, and in the United States, 150,000 SharpMen get HCV every year.
In fact, HCV kills 10,000 people annually. The really bad news is that it's expected to kill three to four times more people within the next 15 years.
Read on for the good stuff on contracting and avoiding HCV:
How SharpMen Contract HCV
Blood products: First the bad news: you can get HCV through blood transfusions or organ transplants. Now the good news: due to the screening of donors, the number of cases due to blood transfusions has decreased.
Unprotected sex: More bad news. Like AIDS and other sexually transmitted diseases, it is possible to contract HCV by coming into direct contact with the bodily fluids of an infected person.
Christopher Hart, M.D., P.H.D., a physician engaged in privately-funded hepatitis research in London, England says, "The best way to help prevent the spread of any kind of hepatitis is to 'practice, practice, practice.' Practice safe sex. Practice cleanliness. And, most of all, practice common sense."
Other activities: Use of contaminated needles for recreational drug use, immunization, medication and tattoo application should be avoided if you plan to avoid HCV. Also think about the need for sterile dental equipment, manicure equipment, shared razors and other items that can break the skin.
HCV Symptoms and Diagnosis
Just knowing the symptoms of HCV is enough to make you sick. They may include:
- liver pain
- short-term memory problems
- skin eruptions
- fluid retention in your legs
- a distaste for cigarettes by smokers
Diagnosis and Treatment of HCV
The Elisa III blood test is used to detect the presence of anti-HCV antibodies in your blood (as opposed to the virus, itself). The idea is, if your body has been exposed to HCV, it’s likely to produce anti-bodies against it. Is this test fool-proof? No way. Many SharpMen are "exposed" to viruses without having their bodies becoming overrun. The United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA), however, has not yet approved the use of other tests for diagnosing HCV.
HCV has an incubation period of 15 to 180 days. There is no vaccine.
The treatment for HCV has been said to be about as bad as the disease itself. A substance called Interferon is used to combat the virus, often causing unpleasant with dangerous side effects (i.e., fever, chills, hair loss and depression). While only one out of five SharpMen treated with Interferon get better, combining this drug with the anti-viral drug Ribavirin increases the cure rate to about 50 percent.
Recovery takes four to eight weeks with or without treatment.
Other Remedy Options
Nutritional Therapy: Sip sports drinks or grape juice to combat nausea. Dry crackers and bread help, too. Take vitamin and mineral supplements.
Herbal and Natural Remedies: Although not necessarily recommended by medical practitioners, herbal and natural remedies have been used over
the years to treat people with hepatitis.
It is a good idea to check with your physician before using any of these:
- Garlic. Cloves and pills are said to strengthen blood vessels and detoxify the liver. Eating garlic raw has no known side effects (other than its strong pungent odor).
- Reishi mushrooms. These hard, chewy mushrooms are said to cleanse the blood, regulate blood pressure and regenerate the liver. The more bitter the mushroom, the higher the level of potency.
- Licorice root. This member of the pea family has been used to treat chronic active hepatitis and prevent cancer of the liver. Sprinkle a pinch of powder into hot water or tea. Drink this mixture for one week.
- Beets. This vegetable has been used to treat serious liver disease. Eat one steamed or juiced beet per day.
Hepatitis D, E, F and G (or, Below "C" Level)
All hepatitis except for HAV (Hepatitis "A") may lead to chronic liver disease and cancer.
Hepatitis D (HDV), which accounts for 10 percent of all hepatitis cases in the United States, occurs only in those who already have Hepatitis B.
HDV is spread mostly through close personal contact such as unprotected sex. But one can also get it through contaminated blood transfusions or by sharing dirty needles. The virus has a two- to eight-week incubation period.
Symptoms are the same as HBV and include fatigue, jaundice and vomiting.
While there is no vaccine for HDV, SharpMen who have been exposed can receive immune globulin injections.
Remember, if you don’t have Hepatitis B, you can’t get Hepatitis D.
Hepatitis E (HEV) accounts for one percent of all reported hepatitis cases in the United States. Young SharpMen are most commonly affected by the disease. There is no vaccine and the incubation period is two weeks to two months.
HEV is spread through dirty water and food (i.e., food contaminated with sewage). The key is to avoid food that is not clean or fairly fresh — particularly when traveling to undeveloped areas. The good news is that HEV is almost never transmitted person-to-person.
Symptoms include abdominal pain, jaundice, fever, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea and skin rashes.
Hepatitis F (HFV) is one disease you probably don't have to worry about. It was found in only a handful of cases in France. Very few details are known about HFV, and many medical professionals question whether the disease actually exists.
Hepatitis G (HGBC) may be the "friendliest" form of hepatitis out there. HGBC has no symptoms and no treatment, and infected SharpMen don't feel ill. There are almost two thousand cases reported annually in the United States.
Like other forms, this variant is transmitted through infected blood, but has not been found in SharpMen receiving blood transfusions since 1991. However, HGBC may occur as a "co-infection" with HCV (i.e., at the same time).
For More Information
The United States Department of Health and Human Services Web site is an excellent source of up-to-date information on infectious diseases control and prevention. http://www.hhs.gov/
For more information on HCV, HDV, HEV, and HGBC contact:
HCV Global Foundation
Hep-C Alert, Inc.
CDC Hepatitis Hotline (Information is faxed back to you)
Global Hepatitis Support Network
Hepatitis C Connection