As far as viruses go, hepatitis C is among the sneakiest. Once it's in your blood, it travels to your liver, where it may settle in for a silent, long-term stay. This can lead to cancer or cause the organ to fail if you don't treat it. In fact, hepatitis C is the top reason for liver transplants in the U.S.
If you think you’ve been exposed, here are five reasons to get tested right away:
If your doctor tells you that you've got an enlarged liver, it means it's swollen beyond its normal size. There's usually another condition that's causing it, such as hepatitis. You have a lot of treatment choices, but you first need to find out the source of the problem.
Getting treated is important. Your liver has a lot of big jobs to do. Just to name a few key ones, it helps clean your blood by getting rid of harmful chemicals that your body makes. It makes a liquid called bile, which helps you...
1. You can have the disease even if you feel fine.
Most people with hepatitis C don't know they have it. The infection usually becomes chronic, meaning the virus lives in your liver quietly for decades. It can take as long as 30 years for symptoms to show up. By then, this important organ could be in serious trouble. That's why you need to get tested, even if you don’t feel like anything is wrong.
You’ve been exposed to blood or needles on the job
2. The test is quick and easy.
A simple blood test can tell if you've ever had the virus. The results usually come back in a few days, but some clinics have rapid versions that can be read in as little as 20 minutes. If it comes back negative, but there's a chance you were exposed in the last 6 months, get tested again.
If the first results are positive, you had hepatitis C at some point. A second test will check to see if the original case cleared up or became chronic (as it does in most people). If it's chronic, you'll need to see a doctor who specializes in treating the disease.
3. You can protect your family and friends.
You can pass the hepatitis C virus to others through your blood, even if you don't have any symptoms. To prevent this, cover wounds carefully and avoid sharing: