Hepatitis C (HCV) is a disease that affects the liver. HCV can lead to liver damage, which can have a significant impact on a person’s quality of life. While it is rare for kids to get infected with this disease, parents need to be aware of the risk factors.
Adults tend to be more at risk of getting HCV, especially if they use recreational drugs. In this post, we will take a closer look at the Hepatitis C symptoms and causes.
How Do Kids Get HCV?
People can become infected with HCV if they come into direct contact with blood or other bodily fluids of someone who already has HCV. There is a risk of transmission to newborns during pregnancy if the mother has HCV. However, it cannot be transmitted through breastfeeding.
In some cases, the disease can be spread by sharing household items such as toothbrushes or nail clippers. Another way that kids can get HCV is if they receive an HCV infected organ transplant or if they receive long-term kidney dialysis and the machine has traces of infected blood.
As mentioned above, adults are at a much higher risk of getting the HCV virus. Getting tattoos with unsterilized needles or sharing needles or nasal devices for taking drugs are two of the leading methods of transmission. It could also be spread through unprotected sexual contact or if you received an infected organ or blood transfusion when you were a child. Young adults are at risk if they experiment with drugs or have unprotected sex.
HCV doesn’t always result in symptoms, so it is crucial to get checked out if you feel you may have been exposed to the virus in the past.
For many people, HCV might not cause any symptoms, even though it is causing damage to the body. If you believe that your child is at risk of contracting HCV, it is essential to take them for regular health checks and to pay attention to their general health. Symptoms of an HCV infection include:
- Loss of appetite
- Jaundice (yellowing of the eyes and skin)
- Darker colored urine
- Belly pain
- Aches and pains
- Loose, gray-colored stools
- Nausea and vomiting
In some cases, the body will cure itself as the child grows up. The CDC has reported that up to 40 percent of newborns born with HCV were clear by the time they reached their second birthdays. However, if the virus is still present after the child’s second birthday, your doctor may recommend starting treatment.
Currently, the only treatment for children under twelve years old is interferon or ribavirin. These drugs are effective at eliminating the virus in the majority of cases. However, they do come with some potential side effects that can have an impact on a child’s daily life, such as depression and fatigue.
There are many new developments in drugs for HCV with better cure rates and fewer side effects, but they are currently unavailable for kids and are still quite expensive.