Hepatitis C Is Linked To Brain Problems
Researchers suspect the brain fog and fatigue caused by hepatitis C is related to neuroinflammation . Past studies have noted changes in brain regions that are also independent of liver failure, says Dr. Garcia-Martinez. Hepatitis C, it turns out, can penetrate the central nervous system and replicate in the brain, causing inflammation, she adds. That, in turn, slows down brain function.
Feeling unwell has other ramifications. People who have been diagnosed with hepatitis C report feeling stigmatized and unsupported by their healthcare team and in personal relationships, reveals a review published in January 2019 in the journal Frontiers in Psychology. Cognitive impairment can also make people less likely to stick to a treatment that can cure their disease. A persons quality of life and job satisfaction may also suffer, according to a review of past research published in the World Journal of Hepatology.
While these changes are concerning, there is a bright spot, and thats treatment. Taking direct-acting antiviral medication for 8 to 12 weeks can cure more than 90 percent of patients, notes the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention . With that comes brain benefits.
People with worse cognitive impairment before treatment also saw the biggest improvements, says Garcia-Martinez.
What Type Of Doctor Treats Hepatitis C
Hepatitis C is treated by either a gastroenterologist, a hepatologist , or an infectious disease specialist. The treatment team may include more than one specialist, depending on the extent of liver damage.Surgeons who specialize in surgery of the liver, including liver transplantation, are part of the medical team and should see patients with advanced disease early, before the patient needs a liver transplant. They may be able to identify issues that need to be addressed before surgery can be considered. Other persons who can be helpful in managing patients include dietitians to consult on nutritional issues and pharmacists to assist with management of drugs.
How Is Hepatitis C Diagnosed And Treated
Hep C is diagnosed through blood tests. Since hep C is a blood-borne illness, people at higher risk for developing it include those who inject drugs or share needles, or work in settings where they are exposed to blood.
If you suspect that youve come in contact with hep C or think you have symptoms, getting tested can help prevent serious health problems down the line. Luckily, many cases of hep C are effectively treated with antiviral medication. Your doctor will tell you what is best for your case.
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Being Able To Describe Your Tiredness
Everyone complains of being tired, even your doctor! But the fatigue of a hepatitis is very specific: some health professionals are not sufficiently aware. If your doctor does not listen to you, try changing your speech and vocabulary. Instead of saying tired, use other words: exhausted, exhausted, exhausted Illustrate the impact of this fatigue on your daily life by concrete examples: you cannot vacuum, you must stop at each floor to go up the stairs, carry a shopping bag you have become impossible, etc.
Hepatitis C Analysis Yields Insights Into Chronic Fatigue Development
Researchers studied patients with hepatitis C in order to find out the relationship between immune activation and chronic fatigue.
Carmine M. Pariante, MD, PhD
New research into chronic fatigue syndrome also sheds a light on why some patients with hepatitis C virus infection go on to experience persistent fatigue.
Researchers in the UK and Germany wanted to investigate the hypothesis that an overactive immune system is a trigger for chronic fatigue syndrome . They noted that some of the key symptoms of CFSbeing tired despite sleep, flu-like symptoms, and cognitive impairmentare also found in certain immune disorders, and patients often report having infections prior to the onset of the chronic fatigue.
However, the researchers noted that its difficult to test whether infectionsor more precisely, immune responses to infectionslead to chronic fatigue syndrome, since its impossible to predict when a patient will get an infection.
Thats where HCV comes in. Many patients with HCV are treated with interferon-alpha , a drug that conjures a robust immune response similar to the kind hypothesized to be a trigger for CFS. The researchers decided to track patients with HCV who were receiving IFN-alpha in order to see how immune system data correlated with rates of CFS.
Russell and Pariante, 2 of the co-authors of the new research, wrote about their findings in an op-ed published earlier this month.
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How To Cure Hep C Brain Drain
If youve been diagnosed with hepatitis C, its important to be treated right away, not only to decrease your risk of physical complications, such as cirrhosis, liver failure, and liver cancer, but also to protect your brain health.
In general, the antivirals used to treat the infection are well tolerated and safe, according to a research review published in June 2019 in the journal Visceral Medicine. About one in 10 patients experience headache, fatigue, nausea, and diarrhea during treatment.
A healthy lifestyle is important anytime, but especially during treatment. Be sure to eat a healthy diet and avoid drinking alcohol, advises the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases.
Knowing you have hepatitis C is also key. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services points out that half of people with hep C are unaware theyre infected. You could be living with symptoms, including cognitive ones, and have no idea that hep C is the underlying cause. All adults are advised to get screened at least once in their lives, and pregnant women should be screened during each pregnancy, advises the CDC. People who inject drugs may need to be screened more frequently.
Bottom line, theres reason for optimism. Hepatitis C infection is a reversible cause of cognitive impairment, no matter the liver disease stage, says Garcia-Martinez.
Pathophysiology Of Fatigue In Liver Disease
The pathogenesis of fatigue in general is poorly understood and this holds true for fatigue in the setting of liver disease . However, given that altered neurotransmission within the CNS drives central fatigue, and that central fatigue is the predominant issue in the setting of liver disease, any discussion of the possible etiology of fatigue in the context of liver disease must relate to these potential changes in neurotransmission within the brain . Therefore, the discussion of the pathophysiology of fatigue in liver disease must incorporate two main concepts:
How does the diseased or damaged liver communicate with the brain to cause changes in neurotransmission?
What specific changes in neurotransmission occur within the brain as a result of this communication, and how do these changes give rise to the genesis of central fatigue?
Moreover, this discussion must also be placed in the context that fatigue in patients with liver disease is manifest in the setting of a diagnosis often holding an uncertain outcome and often associated with societal taboos. Therefore, the diagnosis of chronic liver disease encompasses complex interactions among biological, psychosocial and behavioural processes, which can all significantly affect the clinical expression of fatigue in a given patient.
Causes And Risk Factors
HCV causes hepatitis C. People contract the virus through blood-to-blood contact with contaminated blood. For transmission to occur, blood containing HCV must enter the body of a person without HCV.
A speck of blood, invisible to the naked eye, can carry hundreds of hepatitis C virus particles, and the virus is not easy to kill.
The report the following risk factors for developing hepatitis C:
- using or having used injectable drugs, which is currently the most common route in the U.S.
- receiving transfusions or organ transplants before 1992, which is before blood screening became available
- having exposure to a needle stick, which is most common in people who work in healthcare
- being born to a mother who has hepatitis C
The CDC offer advice on cleaning syringes if it is not possible to use clean and sterile ones. Although bleach can kill the HCV in syringes, it may not have the same effect on other equipment. Boiling, burning and using alcohol, peroxide, or other common cleaning fluids to wash equipment can reduce the amount of HCV but might not stop a person from contracting the infection.
It is extremely dangerous to inject bleach, disinfectant, or other cleaning products, so people should make sure they rinse the syringe thoroughly. A person should only ever use bleach to clean equipment if new, sterile syringes and equipment are not available.
People who are at risk due to these factors can have screening to rule out HCV.
- peginterferon alfa-2a
The Difference Between Hepatitis A B C
Hepatitis A, B, and C all cause liver infection and inflammation but are different viruses.
Hepatitis A tends to be a short-term infection that doesn’t become chronic in the majority of cases, while hepatitis B and C are more likely to remain in the body and cause chronic disease and long-term liver damage.
Hepatitis A is most commonly spread via close contact for example during sex with an infected person, or while caring for someone who is unwell with the virus. People can also ingest hepatitis A unknowingly via contaminated food and drink or items that have been contaminated with an infected person’s poop.
Hepatitis B is spread via infected blood, semen, and other body fluids, and hepatitis C is caught from infected blood.
There are vaccines to prevent hepatitis A and hepatitis B, but not hepatitis C.
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How Can My Doctor Manage Fatigue
To find out what is causing your fatigue, your healthcare provider will ask questions about your lifestyle and medications and will conduct a physical examination. They might order some lab tests to test blood and urine. If you are a woman of child-bearing age, your provider will probably order a pregnancy test.
To relieve fatigue, your provider will treat the condition or disorder thatâs causing it. Depending on your health, your treatment plan may include a combination of medication, exercise, or therapy. If youâre taking a medication that makes you feel exhausted, talk to your healthcare provider about the risks and benefits of stopping the medication or trying another one.
Who Is At High Risk And Should Be Tested For Hepatitis C Infection
The U.S. Preventive Health Services task force recommends that all adults born between 1945 and 1965 be tested once routinely for hepatitis C, regardless of whether risk factors for hepatitis C are present. One-time testing also is recommended for:
- People who currently inject drugs or snort drugs, or ever did so, even once many years previously
- People with persistently elevated alanine aminotransferase level, a liver enzyme found in blood
- People who have HIV infection
- Children born to HCV- or HIV-infected mothers
- People who were ever on long-term hemodialysis
- People who got a tattoo in an unregulated setting, such as prison or by an unlicensed person
- People who received clotting factor produced before 1987
- People who received transfusions or organ transplants before July 1992, or who were notified that they received blood from a donor who later tested positive for hepatitis C infection
- Health care, emergency medical, and public safety workers after a needlestick, eye or mouth exposure to hepatitis C-infected blood
People who may have been exposed to hepatitis C in the previous 6 months should be tested for viral RNA load rather than anti-HCV antibody, because antibody may not be present for up to 12 weeks or longer after infection, although HCV RNA may be detectable in blood as soon as 2-3 weeks after infection.
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How One Black Man Was Cured Of Hep C Despite Racial Bias
According to the CDC, approximately 10 to 20 percent of people with chronic hepatitis C develop cirrhosis over a period of two to three decades.
People with cirrhosis have a 1 to 5 percent annual risk of developing liver cancer and a 3 to 6 percent risk of hepatic decompensation . Theres a 15 to 20 percent risk of death in the year following the development of decompensation.
Age and gender have been shown to affect how chronic hepatitis C progresses, warns Adalja. It doesnt advance to cirrhosis and liver cancer as quickly in premenopausal women as it does in men, according to a report published in July 2013 in Southern Medical Journal.
Adalja notes that other factors that may accelerate chronic hepatitis C progression, increasing the risk of liver damage. These include HIV or hepatitis B coinfection, alcohol overuse, and cigarette smoking. The symptoms of chronic hepatitis C vary depending on the type of liver damage.
Cirrhosis can produce a variety of symptoms:
- Abdominal bloating from a buildup of fluids
- Swelling in the feet, ankles, or legs
- Spider angiomas
What Are The Risk Factors Of Leaving Hepatitis C Untreated
Leaving hep C untreated comes with a host of risks, especially when it comes to the health of your liver. Your liver is one of the most important organs in your body. It essentially acts as a filter, channeling out harmful chemicals and regulating more than 500 vital functions.
These medical conditions can potentially occur if hep C is left untreated.
What Causes Hepatitis C
In this video, we introduce you to what Hepatitis C is, how you can get it, the symptoms, as well as the tests and cures available so you can live hep C free. Theres never been a better time for a C change!
Hep C is an easily cured viral infection. It is passed on when blood from someone who has hep C gets into the bloodstream of someone else. Close to 130,000 Australians still have hep C, many through:
- sharing of equipment for Injecting drugs
- contaminated medical procedures, prior to 1990
- medical procedures overseas .
Types Of Peripheral Neuropathy
The hepatitis C virus is a major cause of chronic liver disease in the United States. In some cases, hepatitis C patients will develop peripheral neuropathy.
The hepatitis C virus is spread mainly by direct contact with infected blood through an opening in the skin or through a mucus membrane.
Currently, the major way of contracting hepatitis C is through sharing contaminated needles or syringes. Although many cases of hepatitis C were transmitted through blood transfusions, modern screening techniques introduced in 1991 have virtually eliminated transfusion-related hepatitis C. However, many people acquire the virus by using contaminated equipment for tattooing, body piercing or acupuncture, or through intranasal cocaine use by sharing equipment. Transmission of the virus by sexual contact or childbirth is rare.
Hepatitis C virus causes an inflammation of the liver that can lead to liver disease, including cirrhosis , liver failure, and liver cancer. A slow and chronic disease, hepatitis C virus infection can take 10 to 40 years to seriously damage the liver. With proper treatment, some patients may recover completely.
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What Is Hepatitis C Infection How Many People Are Infected
Hepatitis C virus infection is an infection of the liver caused by the hepatitis C virus . It is difficult for the human immune system to eliminate hepatitis C from the body, and infection with hepatitis C usually becomes chronic. Over decades, chronic infection with hepatitis C damages the liver and can cause liver failure. In the U.S., the CDC has estimated that approximately 41,200 new cases of hepatitis C occurred in 2016. When the virus first enters the body there usually are no symptoms, so this number is an estimate. About 75%-85% of newly infected people become chronically infected. In the U.S., more than 2 million people are estimated to be chronically infected with hepatitis C. Infection is most commonly detected among people who are 40 to 60 years of age, reflecting the high rates of infection in the 1970s and 1980s. There are 8,000 to 10,000 deaths each year in the U.S. related to hepatitis C infection. HCV infection is the leading cause of liver transplantation in the U.S. and is a risk factor for liver cancer. In 2016, 18,153 death certificates listed HCV as a contributing cause of death this is believed to be an underestimate.
Those who have cirrhosis from HCV also have a yearly risk of liver cancer of about 1%-5%.
Acute Hepatitis C: What Are The Signs And Symptoms
For acute hepatitis C, the incubation period is two weeks to three months after exposure, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention .
Most people who contract acute hepatitis C do not show any symptoms, the CDC notes. And because there are no symptoms, they never receive a diagnosis. But others with acute hepatitis C have the following symptoms:
- Gastrointestinal issues, such as nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain, or clay-colored feces
- Joint pain
For reasons that arent well understood, a small percentage of individuals exposed to HCV about 15 to 25 percent only develop an acute infection that clears out of the body spontaneously, says Amesh Adalja, MD, an infectious disease physician and senior scholar at Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security in Pittsburgh. The infection usually clears from the body within six months. The remaining 75 to 85 percent of those exposed to HCV develop chronic hepatitis C.
Among those who develop an acute infection with symptoms, symptoms typically last only 2 to 12 weeks.
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