Hepatitis C occurs when the liver becomes inflamed because of a virus. In some cases, hepatitis C only causes a mild illness that lasts for a short time. Other people develop more severe cases and the condition is chronic. There is a test for the disease and treatments that can lessen symptoms or even cure it. People born between 1945 and 1965 (the Baby Boomer generation) are considered at higher risk because of the time period in which they lived, so if your parent has not had a hepatitis C test, they should see a doctor to get one.
Why Baby Boomers are At Increased Risk
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says that Baby Boomers are at a higher risk for contracting hepatitis C because the disease was at its peak during the 1960’s. Because it is possible to live with the disease for years without knowing it, they may have been infected when they were young.
Hepatitis C is transmitted through contact with infected blood. Unfortunately, prior to 1992, the procedures for ensuring blood products used for transfusions were not screened the way they are today, which means some people got hepatitis C when they received infected blood. In addition, some of the protocols for preventing infection via medical equipment and procedures were not in place at the time.
Other risk factors for contracting hepatitis C include:
- Having been a healthcare worker who was pricked by an infected needle or who was exposed to blood carrying the virus.
- Having injected or inhaled recreational drugs.
- Being infected with HIV.
- Tattoos and piercings received under unsterile conditions.
- Time spent in prison.
Symptoms of Hepatitis C
People with chronic hepatitis C usually have the condition for many years without knowing it. Eventually, though, the disease causes enough damage to the liver that symptoms appear. When that happens, symptoms may include:
- Easy bruising and bleeding.
- Lack of appetite.
- Urine that is dark in color.
- A buildup of fluid in the abdomen.
- Swollen legs.
- Losing weight without trying.
- Confusion, slurred speech, or drowsiness.
- Blood vessels that look spider-like close to the surface of the skin.
If your older family member has not been tested for hepatitis C, home care can drive them to the doctor’s office to get tested. If they do have hepatitis C, a home care provider can remind them to take the antiviral medications that can cure the condition. If hepatitis C is causing symptoms, a home care provider can assist with managing them, such as by helping with things around the house while the older adult rests if they are feeling fatigued or making nutritious meals and snacks to ensure the senior gets enough nutrition even when they don’t feel like eating.
If you or an aging loved one are considering Home Care Services in Rochester NY, contact the caring staff at Caring Hearts of Rochester today! Serving Rochester, Pittsford, Greece, Webster, Canandaigua, Fairport, Perinton, Penfield, Brighton, Henrietta and surrounding communities. Call 585-245-0134.
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