Contributed by – Preksha Buttan
Although hepatitis C infection is the most dreaded one amongst other types of hepatitis, people still don’t know much about it. On top of that, there’s a lot of misinformation that only blurs the facts about the disease in question. Hepatitis C, if left untreated, can cause some serious liver damage. Therefore, ignoring this ‘silent killer’ wouldn’t be a wise choice for you. So, let us bust some common hepatitis C myths in this article and differentiate fact from fiction.
Myth – I am not at risk because I have never used intravenous drugs.
Fact – Although injecting drugs or sharing paraphernalia used for drug injection increases the risk of contracting hepatitis C, it is not the only way of transmission. Needlestick injuries, receipt of contaminated blood and sharing personal items such as toothbrush and razor with infected blood on them are also some common ways of hepatitis C transmission.
[Also read – Hepatitis A: Causes, Symptoms, Prevention & Treatment]
Myth – Hepatitis C can spread through casual contact.
Fact – It’s very unlikely for hepatitis C to spread through casual contact like shaking hands, hugging or kissing. Even coughing or sneezing is not a cause of its transmission. Hepatitis C is a blood-borne virus. It means that you only get infected if you come in contact with contaminated blood in some way. Unless that has happened, you don’t have to worry.
Myth – I will get to know about the infection with the symptoms it will cause.
Fact – Very small percentage of people with hepatitis C infection develop the symptoms soon after getting infected. And symptoms that do come can be vague and non-specific, like fever, fatigue and abdominal discomfort. So, it’s not that easy to know that you have contracted a virus as serious as hepatitis C unless you get tested for it. Most of the time, the infection goes undetected for years and keeps causing harm to the body without any sign. For this reason, the hepatitis C virus is also called a silent killer.
Myth – Hepatitis C vaccine will keep me safe.
Fact – Unfortunately, we don’t have any hepatitis C vaccine yet. But, vaccines for hepatitis A and B are available. If you are diagnosed with hepatitis C, your doctor may advise you to get hepatitis A and B vaccine shots because those infections can further increase your chances of liver damage. As of now, ways to prevent hepatitis C includes not sharing personal items like a razor or a toothbrush, getting piercing or tattoo from hygienic places, practising safe sex and using all kinds of injections safely and appropriately.
Myth – You cannot contract hepatitis C infection again after recovering from it once.
Fact – The truth is you don’t get lifelong protection against future infections after recovering from hepatitis C once. You can get infected again even if you clear the virus completely from your system or were successfully treated for it in the past. Because of this fact, you should never stop taking precautions to protect yourself against hepatitis C.
[Also read – Hepatitis E: Causes, Symptoms, Prevention & Treatment]
Myth – There is no cure for the hepatitis C infection.
Fact – The goal of every treatment with medications is to clear the virus from the bloodstream. If after six months of receiving treatment the levels of virus are undetectable in the bloodstream, you are considered cured. Moreover, it is estimated that most people who receive hepatitis C treatment can be cured in eight to twelve weeks.
Myth – Hepatitis C only affects the liver.
Fact – Hepatitis C primarily affects the liver. But it can also damage other parts of the body. You may develop hepatitis C-related rheumatic diseases or conditions that affect your muscles and joints even before the symptoms of hepatitis C appear. Chronic hepatitis C may also lead to diabetes, fatigue, skin problems and more.
If you’re diagnosed with hepatitis C infection or suspect that you might have come in contact with the virus, then the best thing you can do is consult with a doctor and get tested to understand your risk. Also, read more about the virus and get all the information about hepatitis C as only with the complete information you can keep it at bay.
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