Googling Hepatitis C Symptoms Will Make You Nuts

doctor's stethoscopeEver since news broke earlier this week that deaths from Hepatitis C are on the rise, and the liver infection actually kills more Americans than HIV, people have been Googling their symptoms furiously to determine if they are infected. Obviously, they didn't get the memo that this kind of frenetic behavior only makes it worse. And in the case of Hepatitis C, it might not even be helpful.

Because here's the tricky part about the disease: The initial infection usually causes no symptoms in most cases. Even in the rare case that some signs are present (see below), they are typically mild and often just seem like a cold or flu setting in. And, that's exactly why so many people don't even know they have "the silent epidemic" until the liver has already been damaged, and it's too late!

But it's not time to panic yet. *Deep breaths.* Here's how to know if you might be at risk for Hepatitis C:

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According to the Mayo Clinic, the following may be signs on Hepatitis C:

  • Fatigue
  • Fever
  • Nausea or poor appetite
  • Muscle and joint pains
  • Tenderness in the area of your liver

From one cyberchondriac to another, that sounds like my worst nightmare come true. Honestly, sometimes after a hard day's work or a fun night out, I've been known to experience all of the symptoms -- how is this list even remotely helpful in terms of detecting Hepatitis C?

Answer: It's not.

But there's another way you can try to detect it early on, and that's simply by knowing if you're at risk. Experts say baby boomers should be on particular alert because about two thirds of U.S. infections are in people born between 1945 and 1964. If you fall in that range -- and especially if you shared needles or had a blood transfusion during the '60s, '70s, and '80s -- then you might discuss the possibility with your doctor. True, that's a long time to remember back on, but it may be worth it in the end, especially now that Hepatitis C is typically considered a curable disease if you catch it in time.

Have you or anyone you know been diagnosed with Hepatitis C?

 

Image via rosmary/Flickr

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