Most people are very much aware of how the liver is one of the most important organs in the human body, tasked with collecting toxins and impurities and then making them ready for elimination from the body. Anything that endangers the health of your liver should be very serious cause for concern, and one of the more dangerous diseases in this regard is Hepatitis C. Anytime a person acquires an infectious disease they will make being cured of it a #1 priority. So is Hep C curable? The good news is that yes, it is.
Further, it’s important to treat the disease with some urgenc. If it is allowed to proceed unchecked it may cause permanent, irreversible liver damage or even liver cancer. A less common question but one that’s still asked is if Hep C can be cured without treatment. The long and short of that is that yes, some people can experience a natural remission of their Hep C, but when you consider that studies have indicated that this only occurs in about 15% of sufferers (spontaneous viral clearance) it’s definitely not something you want to be counting on.
Let’s now take a longer look at Hepatitis C, and most specifically at what the common causes of it and what you should be avoiding to minimize your risk of being infected by it.
Hepatitis C Infection Risk Factors
Hep C is a virus that is spread through contact with infected blood and bodily fluids, and infection occurs only once the virus enters your bloodstream. While it is an uncomfortable situation to talk about, the fact is that the number one cause of Hep C infection is illicit drug use. When users share drug paraphernalia that is contaminated with infected blood, the risk of disease transmission increases quite dramatically. If you are going to engage in this type of behaviour, it is best to avoid using pipes, straws, spoons, needles, or other instruments that have already been used by others.
Keep in mind as well that any of these items may still be contaminated by blood even if there is no dried blood visible on it. Drug use poses very real and immediate health risks of all sorts, including the risk of a Hep C infection, so it really is best to avoid illicit drug use entirely. It’s fine to ask, ‘is hep C curable’, but your best bet is to make smarter choices so you avoid becoming infected in the first place.
Becoming infected with Hepatitis C as a result of a blood transfusion with tainted blood is thankfully much less common these days here in North America due to greater vigilance about the supply of donated blood, but it still needs to be mentioned.
Unprotected sex is also a Hep C risk factor, and particularly unprotected anal sex due to the way the walls of the rectum are more prone to tearing and exposing blood.
Other risk factors you should still be wary of include tattooing, acupuncture, or body piercing, especially if the provider is using unclean needles. You can even get Hep C from using a shaving razor, grooming scissors, or nail clippers that have infected blood on them, even if it’s in trace amounts.
Hepatitis C Transmission Risk Factors
One of the more unfortunate realities with Hepatitis C is that some people infected with it may not be aware of their condition. In some cases the sufferer will not show or experience any symptoms of the infection. As you might imagine, it is these people who will be more likely to pass the infection on to others and the risk is greater within immediate families.
Another consideration along with if Hep C is curable is that soon-to-be or new mothers can possibly spread Hep C to their children. This can occur during pregnancy or in childbirth. Another risk factor is with breastfeeding if the skin of the nipple is broken anywhere.
Being aware of Hep C transmission myths is also helpful. It is NOT possible to be infected from breast milk, food or water, and casual contact like shaking hands, hugging, or kissing. You will also NOT get Hep C if an infected person sneezes or coughs on you.
Hepatitis C Treatment
Is Hep C curable? As stated, it is curable and we’ve also looked at can Hep C be cured without treatment. If you’ve contracted this disease, relying on being one of the 15% of people who do recover from Hep C without treatment isn’t going to be wise. It’s very important to treat Hepatitis C without delay, and doing so with a course of a DAA antiviral drug is always going to be the smart choice for people suffering from this disease.
Your physician will almost certainly prescribe one of these drugs for you, and the most commonly prescribed of them is Sovaldi (Sofosbuvir). Be aware, however, that Hep C medications tend to be quite expensive. For this reason many people will be looking for a cheap Hep C treatment, but unfortunately no such option exists once you contracted the disease.
There are choices you can make to enhance your recovery from Hep C when on a course of medication such as avoiding alcohol or smoking and eating healthy food, most notably. While you can get vaccinated for other forms of hepatitis such as hepatitis A and B, there is no Hep C vaccine currently available. Fortunately, studies are still being done so there may be a vaccine available in the future.
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Medically reviewed by Dr. Gerardo Sison, Pharm.D.
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