Hepatitis C

baby-boomers-hep-cA viral disease, hepatitis C (HCV) targets the liver and causes it to become inflamed. Over time, the disease can lead to liver damage, cirrhosis, liver cancer, other liver diseases and even early death.

One of the most frightening statistics about hepatitis C is that approximately 80 percent of people with the virus remain asymptomatic for many years. Most of these individuals are unaware that they are infected with hepatitis C, and as a result do not seek life-saving medical treatment.

Hepatitis C Symptoms and Complications

Because hepatitis C causes few symptoms in its early stages, an infection can be difficult to diagnose. However, people should keep an eye out for the following signs and symptoms of HCV:

  • Fatigue
  • Fever
  • Muscle aches
  • Pain or tenderness in the region of the liver
  • Dark urine
  • Nausea, vomiting or appetite problems
  • Jaundice

If you are displaying any of the above symptoms or that of hepatitis B, or if you want to learn more about the potential causes of HCV, don’t hesitate to contact Beverly Hills Gastroenterologist Ari Nowain, MD at the Center for GI Health for a consultation.

Causes of Hepatitis C

Hepatitis C passes from person to person through contact with contaminated blood. People may contract the virus through needle sharing for illegal drugs or through sexual activity. In rare cases, a mother can pass the virus to her baby during childbirth. Before 1992, Hepatitis C could be also transferred during a blood transfusion.

For reasons that are not fully understood at this time, baby boomers represent 75 percent of HCV sufferers. In light of this statistic, the Center for Disease Control now recommends that anyone born between 1945 and 1965 undergo an initial screening test.

New Testing Guidelines

The CDC advises that those individuals born between 1945 and 1965 undergo an initial screening for hepatitis C with an FDA-approved antibody test. Those patients who receive a positive initial result should then schedule an HCV-RNA test to determine whether the infection is active. Due to a general lack of awareness about hepatitis C, the CDC estimates that as many as 800,000 people may currently suffer from the virus and not know it.

The CDC believes it’s crucial to identify hepatitis C sufferers early so that they can be monitored by physicians and treated before the condition progresses.

Hepatitis C Treatment

The good news is that a number of effective therapies now exist for treating hepatitis C. If the virus is discovered early, new combination therapies and more targeted treatments can help stop HCV from progressing and prevent further damage to the liver.

Contact a Beverly Hills Gastroenterologist

Dr. Ari Nowain and his staff provide high-quality medical care that is accessible to every patient. If you are displaying any of the symptoms of hepatitis C, or if you’re concerned about your risk factors, contact the Center for GI Health by calling (310) 657-4444. Due to the specialized nature of current hepatitis C treatment plans, Dr. Nowain will refer any patients with positive test results to a specialist in the field for further therapy.