Hepatitis C : frequently asked questions

Hepatitis C is an inflammation of the liver, caused by a virus which is transmitted exclusively  via blood contact by an infected person. According to databases, between 170 and 240  million people are already affected by this illness. In Canada 245587 people carry the virus inside them.  In Quebec there are 39136  confirmed cases but the estimated number oft he infected people is about 70.000. In 2015 1073 new cases occurred. The prevalence is about 0.74%.   We shall not forget that hepatitis c is the main cause of liver transplantations in Canada and that the death rate of hepatitis c  overtakes the one of HIV globally.

 

Transmission

Is hepatitis c sexually transferable?

The transmission via sex is possible but rather uncommon.

The risk of transmission is only enhanced if bleedings occur. Sex including anal penetration,

fisting, barebacking or sadomasochism  shows a higher risk.

People who are under the influence of synthetic drugs during sex are at a even higher risk; If you are not able anymore  to feel pain, you might still have tiny bleeding  injuries,  passing unnoticed.

 

symptoms: Why is hepatitis C called “the silent disease”?

Hepatitis C is also called the silent disease because the majority of patients does not show any symptoms, apart from  a strong daily fatigue and a constant lack of energy.

Nevertheless the inflammation can entail serious consequences in infected people:

  • liver fibrosis
  • liver cirrhosis
  • liver cancer

At the same point here are several symptoms, which behave atypical for hepatitis:

  • skin problems
  • joint pain
  • depression
  • mood swings
  • cryoglobulinemia

 

Are there typical hepatitis C symptoms ?

Fatigue and a lack of energy are the main symptoms und make up 80 % of the symptoms linked to hepatitis c.

  • The other 20 % consists of muscle pain, skin problems, cryoglobulinemia, irritability, night sweat, nausea, etc.

 

In order to fight the chronical pain, a therapy with an electrostimulation device of the TENS  type is very efficient.

 

How does the virus affect my liver?

It causes lesions which prevent the liver from functioning normally. The liver suffers in silence.

 

Is a positive testing result possible without having hepatitis c?

yes, if you belong to the 25 up to 40% of people whose organism rejects the virus. The antibodies formed  during the contact with the virus can persist for a quite long  time in the organism even for the whole life.

 

Is there a particular vaccine against hepatitis c?

Until now there is no vaccine. But in nearly 100% of all cases it can be treated and cured.

 

Can one be vaccinated against other diseases?

There are vaccines against hepatitis B und A, available as a single dose or a combination (Twinrix), as well as against  pneumococci and flu in case one is HIV positive.

 

Treatments

Is it true that  I can recover on my own?

yes, in the first 6 months or the following year 25 up to 40% of people reject the virus spontaneously.

Everyday life and nutrition

Which precautions are to made concerning my environment?

There are no dangers as long as direct contact with blood is avoided. Toilet requisites such as tooth brush, shaver, nail clippers, etc.  should not be borrowed.

 

Is a pregnancy possible with hepatitis C?

The transmission rate of the HCV ( hepatitis c-virus) from mother to baby is about 5 %. This risk increases by a factor of 7, if you are  simultaneously infected by HIV. During an ongoing treatment there is no pregnancy possible, extendable up to 6 months after finishing the treatment.

Ribavirin causes  deformities to the foetus.   This applies independently  of the question whether the man or the woman takes the medicament.

 

Do I have to follow a special diet in case of hepatitis C?

The basic principle is common sense and reticence. Everything that surcharges the liver should be avoided.  No excesses, balanced meals and enough physical activity, as far as you are able to, should be followed.  Drinking  a lot of water reduces certain side effects

Even if you are prescribed no special nutritional plans, there are still some principles to follow concerning the progression of the disease and a poor response to the treatment: .  No excesses, balanced meals and enough physical activity, as far as it is possible.

Here the Canadian nutrition guide is an excellent advisor.

  • Avoid toxins :alcohol, tobacco, drugs, food intoxications
  • Do not surcharge your liver. Follow a balanced diet with a reticence towards sugar and fats.
  • It is not about to completely avoid those ingredients (unless prescribed by your doctor) but to consume them consciously with reticence
  • In order to gain energy, preferably opt for whole grain products , fruits and vegetables
  • animal protein (meat, fish, dairy products) and vegetable protein (pulses, tofu soymilk, nuts and grains) support the immune system while fighting infections and heal the liver.
  • fat and sugar are contained in a huge amount crisps, sweets and other snacks of that kind. Try to ban these from your diet plan.
  • Be careful with carbonated beverages, fruit beverages and even with juices which contain a huge amount of sugar per bottle or can.
  • And the main principle: if you suffer from superfluous pounds move more and burn more calories than you take in.
  • Eating is a pleasure, do not forbid it to yourself. Be  reasonable and remember that an occasional feast is allowed to everyone.

August 6, 2017