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Drug Use and Hepatitis C

Drug use and hepatitis C are linked. In fact, research studies have shown that substance abuse and addiction are linked to higher rates of contacting this medical condition - which is classified as a life-threatening disease that causes cirrhosis of the liver and cancer.

Hepatitis C, on the other hand, is a virus that is transmitted through various bodily fluids - such as blood. One of the common ways to contract this condition is by sharing needles with an infected person. You can also contract it if you have unprotected sexual intercourse with someone who is infected.

Of all those who are infected with hepatitis C, anywhere between 45 and 85 percent will contract chronic hepatitis C - also known as HCV or hepatitis C virus. This is according to research released by the WHO - the World Health Organization.

Understanding Hepatitis C

Hepatitis C is a viral disease - among the most common that is blood borne in the United States. It works by destroying the cells of the liver. According to the CDC - the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention - about 36000 new cases of acute HCV infections are reported on an annual basis in the United.

If you contract acute HCV, you might display such signs and symptoms as diarrhea, nausea, loss of appetite, abdominal pain, and jaundice. However, you might not even display any signs and symptoms, depending on the condition.

That said, about 85 percent of all those who have acute hepatitis C will end up developing chronic infections. This is because chronic hepatitis C is an insidious disease. Since it has symptoms that are barely discernable, there is a risk that it can mask progressive injury to the cells of the liver over 2 to 4 decades, or even longer.

If you have chronic hepatitis C, you might end up suffering from liver cancer and cirrhosis of the liver. This condition has been linked to anywhere between 8000 and 10000 fatalities in the United States on annual basis. These numbers are so high that hepatitis C is now considered to be the leading cause of cancer of the liver in the United States. It is also associated with more numbers of liver transplants than other diseases.

HCV Transmission

You can contract hepatitis C by being in direct contact with the blood and other bodily fluids of someone who is infected. Although this contact might occur in various ways, it is now known that intravenous drug use is responsible for about 60 percent of all new cases of hepatitis C in the United States. This is according to research conducted by the CDC.

Even so, this estimate might also be conservative. This is because close to 10 percent of all the people who get a diagnosis for HCV do not have any identifiable risk factors. Some of these new cases also represent individuals who are not yet able to accept the fact that injection drug use was the risk factor for their diagnosis.

Since hepatitis C can be transmitted through blood, if you have ever taken drugs intravenously, there is a high risk that you might be struggling with liver disease. It is, to this end, recommended that you get tested for this virus.

Hepatitis C and Drug Use

Intravenous drug use can lead to the development of hepatitis C because you might be sharing contaminated needles - among other drug injected paraphernalia with people who are infected.

In a recent study, it was found that more than 64 percent of all intravenous drug uses who have been taking these drugs via injection for less than a year were already living with hepatitis C. Overall, however, the prevalence of hepatitis C was at a rate of more than 76 percent among intravenous drug users who had been injected drugs for less than 6 years.

Other research studies show that the rates of HCG among current and past intravenous drug users were extremely high in various cities across the United States. For instance, a study funded by the CDC and NIDA - the National Institute on Drug Abuse - reported that many people who were recovering from intravenous drug users who tested positive for hepatitis C had not - reportedly - been injecting drugs for between 5 and 15 years.

That said, hepatitis B, hepatitis C, and HIV/AIDS tend to share common risk factors for new infections. Intravenous drug users, for instance, tend to have a higher prevalence of co-infection with these viruses - as well as many others that cause these conditions. It is for this reason, recommended that they are tested for all of these viruses.

Drug Use, Addiction, and Hepatitis C

Alcohol and drug abuse are closely linked with this condition. In fact, excessive drinking and drug use are among the most common vectors through which hepatitis C is spread. These forms of substance abuse can also cause people to develop this condition.

Hepatitis C is a viral condition that causes the inflammation of the tissue of the liver. It is spread, as we have seen earlier - through contact with the bodily fluids of an infected person. These fluids include but are not limited to vaginal fluids, semen, and blood.

The common vectors through which this condition is spread in the United States, however, include needle sharing and sexual contact. At the moment, it is estimated that between 2.7 million and 3.9 million Americans are currently living with the condition.

Studies have also found that between 50 percent and 100 percent of all intravenous drug users live with hepatitis C. others have shown that over 80 percent of these people end up developing chronic infections that last for the rest of their lives.

Luckily, there are now some medications that can cure or at least manage the condition. This means that your blood will not show traces of hepatitis C 3 months after you stop the treatment schedule. However, this only happens to 50 to 95 percent of all patients.

The Development of Hepatitis

With the worsening of hepatitis C, the tissue of the liver will become inflamed. If you are affected, you might not even show any symptoms. However, there is a risk that you might experience:

  • Abdominal pain
  • Constant tiredness
  • Diarrhea
  • Reduced appetite
  • Vomiting
  • Yellowing of the eyes and the skin

The yellowing of the eyes and the skin is commonly referred to as jaundice. This discoloration is the most widely known and - perhaps - most easily recognizable symptom of hepatitis C.

When you contract hepatitis C, it can either be chronic or acute. Acute hepatitis will take place through 3 distinct phases. During the first phase - known as the prodromal phase - you will experience flu-like symptoms.

Over the next phase, you will display symptoms that are liver-specific. These symptoms might include but are not limited to the yellowing of the eyes and the skin as well as the development of dark urine. You might also experience enlarged spleens and livers.

After that, you will go through the recovery phase. However, this is normally the case with hepatitis B and not C. in fact, research studies have reported that less than 20 percent of all cases of hepatitis C ever resolve completely.

In case your hepatitis condition persists for more than 6 months, it would be considered to be chronic in nature. This condition is accompanied by many of the same symptoms that you would typically display if you were struggling with acute hepatitis. However, it will generally take longer before you develop chronic hepatitis.

That said, chronic hepatitis will severely impact the function of your liver in the long term. It could, eventually, even end up causing severe scarring and damage. When this happens, you could be said to have the condition that is commonly referred to as cirrhosis of the liver.

Liver cirrhosis will permanently impede the functioning of your liver. It could also case various conditions - some of which are potentially fatal. In most cases, it is possible to prevent hepatitis by going for treatment.

Hepatitis C Symptoms

If you contract hepatitis C - either through intravenous drug use or through any other way - you will display some signs and symptoms of this condition. However, these symptoms will largely depend on the stage and the type of hepatitis C that you have. That said, the following are some of the common signs and symptoms of hepatitis:

  • Abdominal pain
  • Dark urine
  • Enlarged liver
  • Enlarged pancreas
  • Exhaustion
  • Fatigue
  • Flu-like symptoms
  • Pale or Dark stool
  • Reduced appetite
  • Tiredness
  • Weight loss

Unfortunately, most of these symptoms are similar to those you would display if you were struggling with another disease. This is why it is impossible to tell if you have hepatitis C or not unless you go see a doctor for a thorough assessment and evaluation.

Hepatitis C is also considered to be a serious condition - and one that can sometimes give rise to the development of fatal complications. To this end, if you believe that you might have been exposed to the virus - or if you are struggling with metabolic hepatitis - it is recommended that you consult with your doctor as soon as possible.

Often, the particles of the hepatitis C virus will often be detectable 1 to 2 weeks after you contract the condition. Antibodies, on the other hand, will only be detected 3 to 12 weeks after infection.

Medical Intervention

Less than 20 percent of all cases of hepatitis C will resolve themselves unless you get medical intervention. In many situations, more than 80 percent of all these cases are going to develop into chronic infections - and even permanent in some situations.

In most cases, treatment for hepatitis C will be focused on preventing the development of more serious compilations - such as cirrhosis of the liver - instead of trying to cure the condition. It is also important to note that hepatitis C is generally treated using a suite of drugs or medications

Due to the severity and immediacy of the condition, it is critical that you seek medical help for all drug and alcohol abuse issues that you might have. This is because ongoing substance abuse might continue affecting the progression of the condition.

By attending a professionally qualified and accredited treatment center, it might be easy for you to increase the likelihood that you will achieve full recovery in the long term - particularly for your substance abuse and addiction.

This could also improve the chances that you are going to recover from the hepatitis C condition. To this end, in case your substance abuse and addition has been interfering with your treatment of hepatitis C, it might be in your best interests to get in touch with a dedicated recovery and treatment specialist. This is the only way you can get the help that you need.

Preventing Hepatitis C Infection

Although it is possible to get vaccinated against all other forms of hepatitis, there is no way to do this against hepatitis C. however, you can reduce your risk of contracting this condition by reducing and eventually stopping your intravenous drug use.

Only be preventing illicit drug injection is it possible to completely eliminate the greatest risk factor for hepatitis C infection. This is according to research released by the CDC - the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Research has also shown that intravenous drug users who seek treatment from an accredited addiction recovery and rehabilitation center tend to end up reducing the high-risk activities that put them at risk of contracting HCV. These activities include but are not limited to the sharing of drug injection paraphernalia - such as needles. This paraphernalia are responsible for the transmission of hepatitis C.

Getting Help

Overall, drug use and hepatitis C are linked in the sense that sharing needles with people who are infected could increase your risk of contracting this condition. To this end, it is recommended that you do not share needles while taking drugs - and to get help for your drug abuse and addiction before it is too late. Remember, most of the cases of hepatitis C - especially those that are chronic - will never resolve completely.

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