For many years, Hepatitis C was thought of as one of those diseases that only drug addicts or other “unsavory characters” get. It was seen as something dirty, something that can only happen because of your own bad lifestyle choices.
Now, though, it has become clear that this is not true. There are many ways to get hepatitis C, and in fact, it is most common in people born between 1945 and 1965. This means that the aging loved one that you care for might be in the risk category, even though they are probably not an “unsavory character” in the slightest.
The symptoms of hepatitis C are mostly non-existent in the early stages, but as it progresses, you or your senior care aide might notice things such as jaundice, dark urine, or an unusual fatigue in your loved one. In addition to knowing these symptoms, though, it is also helpful to know some of the causes of hepatitis C, so that you can know if your loved one is at risk.
Here is a list of some of the most common causes:
- Sharing drug paraphernalia – Sharing needles really is one of the leading causes of hepatitis C, so it is worth mentioning on this list. If your loved one has a history of drug use or addiction, it is possible that they could have been contaminated by an unsterile needle that was used to inject drugs.
- Tattoos and ear piercings – This is one of the least likely ways to contract hepatitis C, especially in today’s world, but there is still a slight chance that you could contract this disease by unsterile equipment used to ink a tattoo or pierce an ear.
- Blood transfusions and organ transplants – If someone with hepatitis donated blood and that blood was not thoroughly checked for that disease, it could have been transferred to your loved one if they received a blood transfusion. This also holds true for organ transplants. However, this is largely uncommon today, but if your loved one received a transfusion or an organ before 1992, they could be at risk.
- Working in health care – If your loved one worked as a nurse or a doctor in the past, they might have been exposed to needles that could have been infected with hepatitis C, or they could have come into contact with some infected blood. It is important to know if they have a history working in health care, so be sure to ask them so you can know whether they have been exposed.
- Hemodialysis – Hemodialysis involves the use of a machine to filter one’s blood, because one’s kidneys do not have the capability of doing so themselves. This, though, also puts one at risk for hepatitis C, so be sure that if your loved one receives this treatment, everything is sterile and done properly at all times.
If your aging loved one’s history involves any of these risk factors, you and your senior care aide should keep an eye out for symptoms of hepatitis C. The sooner you catch it, the better chance there is of your loved one making a full recovery.
For more information about how the caregivers at La Jolla Nurses Homecare can help your aging parents remain in their own homes, call 858-454-9339. We are a home care agency providing quality and affordable senior care in La Costa, CA, and the surrounding communities.
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