Hepatitis C is a severe liver infection caused by the hepatitis C virus. The virus may cause a chronic or acute infection. While an acute infection is short-term, with your body being able to fight it off in some cases, a chronic infection is long-lasting and can cause liver damage.
Several risk factors could increase your chances of contracting the virus, and understanding them is crucial to help you prevent, recognize, and effectively treat an infection. The first step for minimizing your risk of developing hepatitis C is knowing when and how often to test.
Here at Monarch Health Services, Inc., in West Palm Beach, Florida, Tiffany Jarrett, MD, and our team offer rapid hepatitis C testing, which can determine if you have an infection almost immediately. We also guide you through the best ways to reduce your risk of infection and, based on your lifestyle and medical needs, help you determine how often you should get tested.
Here’s what you need to know about hepatitis C, how it’s spread, and what your risk factors are for developing the condition.
Hepatitis C is primarily spread when the blood of an infected person comes into contact with the blood of an uninfected person. Certain factors can increase a person’s risk of contracting the virus, such as the following:
Sharing drug paraphernalia, such as needles, is one of the most common ways by which the virus spreads.
If you had a blood transfusion or organ transplant before 1992, you might have been exposed to the virus, because there was no screening for hepatitis C during these procedures. Today, the risk of contracting the virus through these procedures is very low.
People who work in health care are often exposed to other people's blood and may be at risk of getting the virus if accidentally exposed.
There's a low chance of getting hepatitis C through sex, but the risk exists. The chance heightens if you or your partner also has other sexually transmitted infections or if you have multiple sexual partners.
When getting a tattoo or piercing, it's crucial to ensure the equipment being used has been thoroughly sterilized. Using nonsterile instruments puts you at risk of contracting hepatitis C and other infections.
Hepatitis C can be prevented by taking steps to protect yourself. Avoid drug use and sharing needles and other equipment. Practice safe sex, and be cautious if you have a job that puts you at risk.
Most importantly, get tested if you suspect you've been exposed to the virus. Early diagnosis and treatment can help prevent chronic liver damage.
If you have hepatitis C and want treatment, or if you want testing to see if you have the virus, call 561-510-7859 or book an appointment online with Monarch Health Services, Inc., today.