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General Warnings and Precautions for Those with Hepatitis C



Things you need to know if you have Hepatitis C (HCV) or any liver disease.

Like it or not, what you DO NOT know can sometimes be fatal. When I found out I had Hepatitis C, my doctor told me not to drink alcohol, to use aspirin sparingly and to get my liver enzymes tested. That was about it. The rest of what I know was up to me to find out. I understand these people are very busy and I also understand that it's not feasible for them to sit there and tell us every thing that can be a threat to our health, we'd be there for hours! Since I wanted to AVOID POTENTIALLY LIFE-THREATENING and hazardous things, I searched the internet for warnings for people with Hepatitis C or other liver disease. Here is what I found:

1. HCV & THREAT FROM THE OCEAN

People with HCV should be aware of a bacteria called V. vulnificus, found in the Gulf of Mexico and other warm waters. It infects oysters and other shellfish. Pollution is not what causes the contamination in the shellfish, so just avoiding contaminated waters is not enough of a precaution. This bacteria can be in raw or undercooked fish. But, get this, it's not enough for those with HCV to just avoid oysters, sushi, and lightly cooked shellfish (some of my personal favorites!), but this bacteria can infect open wounds when a person goes swimming in infected waters!
HUMOR: Okay, so like, my vacation I was planning in the Gulf of Mexico, where I wade in the warm water after savoring a raw oyster in my "Bloody Mary" and downing a few deep fried shrimp and a double chocolate cheesecake is out, Doc? Bummer! I'm, like so bummed out, Dude. I have Hep C, I have to find out what the other pleasures are in life, right!

2. HEPATITIS C RE-INFECTION

As if one dose of this virus isn't enough! Usually we think about viruses, "Well, I've had it, so I can't get it again." Not in the case with HCV (hepatitis C), folks. You CAN be re-infected with the virus. There are different genotypes, and you can even be re- infected with the same genotype you already have. Isn't that special? No, but in all seriousness, if you became infected with HCV because of risky behavior or lifestyle (using illegal drugs etc), by all means STOP! Don't think "Well, I already have it so what's the use?" or " I already have Hep C, so what's getting a tattoo gonna do?"

Of course, you want to take all precautions not to spread the disease, but you also want to take these precautions for yourself. The Center for Disease Control states, "Prior infection [of HCV] does not protect against re-infection with the same or different genotypes of the virus." The point is, no matter how you got the virus you must protect yourself as well as others from infection.

3. RAW SHELLFISH FOR THOSE WITH HCV, NO WAY!

"Eating raw or undercooked shellfish, yes, even from the ocean, can be a serious danger, and even cause death, especially in people with liver disease." A warning from a posting in the hepc.bull, complied by Joan King on theHEPCBC website. The FDA issued an advisory warning to high-risk individuals (that would be us) with chronic liver disease or weakened immune systems urging them to avoid eating raw or partially cooked oysters.

However, the good news is, you can eat shellfish cooked. However, it is important to note that it is advised for people with hemochromatosis (a condition involving iron overload) are advised to avoid shellfish, oysters completely due to iron in them. See my special report on iron overload

4. HAV VACCINE - GET IT! Hepatitis A and Hepatitis C don't mix!

Hepatitis A (HAV) is not ordinarily a lethal disease (although it can in some rare cases cuase liver failure. BUT, if you already have Hepatitis C (HCV) then HAV can be DEADLY. According to an article by Dan O'Neill "Hepatitis A and Hepatitis C Don't Mix." Source It is highly recommended by many doctors to get the HAV vaccine.

5. VITAMIN A AND HCV

Most sources I looked up about vitamin A, said that excess vitamin A can be very toxic to the liver. Prescription For Nutritional Healing by James F. Balch M.D. says, "Excessive amounts of vitamin A over long periods may cause liver enzymes to be elevated." When asking my doctor what too much vitamin A would be, he told me "meagadoses, beyond what any multivitamin would contain." James F. Balch suggests, "Anyone taking over 50,000 international units a vitamin A daily for over a year should reduce his or her intake or switch to natural beta-carotene, which should not have any side-effects." The typical dose in a multivitamin is 25,000 IU's.

6. MOLDS, AFLATOXINS AND PEANUTS DO NOT MIX WITH HCV

To make a long and boring story short an aflatotoxin is a mold. These are substances that grow on certain foods, especially nuts. Peanuts stored in hot and humid conditions are especially prone to this. This is one reason why some nutritionists advise hepatitis patients to avoid all nuts; mostly I've heard that peanuts are to be avoided.

Matthew Dolan, in his book The Hepatitis C Handbook writes "Although many nutritionists appear to be unaware of the severe risks posed by aflatoxins in the diet, particularly people who already have liver disease...aflatotoxins are a definite dietary cofactor in the development of liver cancer." He continues, by explaining that they are carcinogenic and they are a particular problem in peanuts.

Summing it up: Avoid all foods that might potentially contain any traces of aflatoxin (peanuts). Foods that have low levels of it may not be a danger to the general population but they may present a "small risk as cofactors to HCV in triggering the development of liver cancer." And, if you do eat nuts, don't eat discolored or damages nuts of any kind, or one that have been left uncovered for long periods of time. Store them in a cool dry place to avoid contamination.

7. MIXING ALCOHOL & PAIN RELIEVERS

Alcohol is a "no-no" for your liver. Acetominophen, Aspirin, paracetamol and Ibuprofen can all be liver toxic and a have an impact on liver function. The FDA warns and requires warnings on over-the-counter pain relievers about the danger of mixing alcohol and these various medications. The combination can cause damage to the livers of people who DONT have Hep C, so image what it can do to people who DO have a chronic liver disease. Here is a simplistic, but accurate conclusion: alcohol is bad, drugs are bad, mixing them is really bad for those with HCV. I could give you a bunch of scientific evidence and articles and sources, but you don't need them for the general purpose here, which is just to avoid what hurts you.

8. Aspirin, Acetaminophen, Ibuprofen, Paracetamol

All these over-the-counter drugs can have impact on liver function and potentially cause liver damage. It is advised to not take any of these unless absolutely necessary. Persistent long tern use in contraindicated for people with hepatitis C. If you have a condition that involves chronic pain and need a pain reliever on a regular basis it is best to consult your doctor about what would be safest. In The Hepatitis C Help Book by Misha Ruth Cohen and Robert Gish, it is advised, "Although high doses of acetaminophen can be toxic to the liver, it is still the safest pain remedy available if taken in doses of less than 2 grams a day." Acetaminophen is Tylenol.

MAKE IT YOUR BUSINESS TO GET THE FACTS, DON'T BE LEFT IN THE DARK

Did your doctor tell you all this? I didn't think so. MEN:Did the Doc tell you you're more prone to "iron-overload" (storing excessive amounts of iron in the liver) which can cause faster progression of the disease (Hep C) than females, in general? WOMEN: Did your doctor tell you that pregnancy can cause your Hep C to get worse? Or that birth control pills can be toxic to your liver? Just imagine what else you don't know! The hold saying, "What he don't know, can't hurt him," is certainly not the case for those of us with a liver disease!

Speaking of her own experience with Hep C, Naomi Judd wrote, "This should be a clear warning to you that you must get involved in your own health." She hit the nail on the head with that one!

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