Health screenings are an important part of caring for yourself. Women over 40 know they should have mammograms. PAP smears are an annual part of women's lives as well. Colonoscopies are fun for everyone starting at age 50. But there are important screenings that you may not know about.
Why Are Boomers At Risk?
Baby boomers, Americans born between 1945-1965, are 5 times more likely to have been exposed to hepatitis C than the rest of the population and should undergo screenings. Who knew? The reasons that baby boomers are more likely to have been exposed to hep C is unknown. It wasn't until the early 1990s that transplant organs and donated blood were properly screened for diseases and conditions, so the recipients could have been exposed. Universal precautions is a term medical professionals use that means to protect yourself as if each patient has something contagious. This practice was not common before the 1990s and could have put patients and medical staff at risk. Other risk factors for hep C are using illicit drugs, sharing needles, getting a tattoo or piercing in an unclean place, and being a long time hemodialysis patient.
What Is Hep C?
Hepatitis C is a virus that attacks the liver and results in chronic illness and organ damage. Hep C can lay dormant in your body and you could experience no symptoms for some time. Symptoms of hep C including weight loss, yellowing of the skin or eyes, fluid build up in the abdomen, fatigue, easily bleeding and bruising. At the first sign of these symptoms you should contact your doctor. Hepatitis C can result in cirrhosis, cancer of the liver and even liver failure.
Testing for hepatitis C is a simple blood test. Being tested before you are symptomatic means that if you are hepatitis C positive you could undergo treatment before you have any organ damage or have developed a chronic illness. If you are a baby boomer and have never been tested for hepatitis C, talk with your doctor about your risk factors and testing, even if you are without symptoms. Once diagnosed you should know that there are new treatments available for hep C. Your GI Associates doctor can explain these new options. Make an appointment here.