/Posted at;starnewsonline.com –
Being a baby boomer is a risk factor for the disease that can lead to liver damage.
Across the country, there’s been a troubling increase in new cases of hepatitis C, which more than tripled from 2010 to 2015, according to the Centers for Disease Control. And baby boomers in particular need to be paying attention. They account for three out of four people who have the disease, the CDC reports. That’s why doctors and health professionals are urging those born between 1945 and 1965 to get tested.
Doctors and scientists have some ideas about the reasons this group is more susceptible, but much is still unknown, said Dr. Bill King, of Wilmington Gastroenterology Associates on Oleander Drive. “We all see a lot of patients with hepatitis C, and being a baby boomer is a risk factor.” It’s a blood-borne virus and other risk factors may relate to the lives of those born during those decades, such as the drug culture in the ’60s and ’70s and certain medical procedures before current cleanliness and screening practices.
Between 70 and 85 percent of those who contract the illness develop a chronic, long-term, infection. Over time, chronic hepatitis C can cause serious liver health problems, such as cirrhosis and liver cancer. It kills more Americans than any other infectious disease, and a CDC report released earlier this year found that nearly 20,000 Americans died from hepatitis C-related causes in 2015, and the majority of deaths were people age 55 and older.
“Any many people don’t know they have it,” Dr. King said. “They don’t show symptoms.” There is good news, though. Current treatments are very successful.
“The current medications are pills with very little side effects,” Dr. King said. “It’s a cure for 95 percent of people.” There’s a better chance it will work through, the sooner a patient begins. “The time lag from infection to damage like cirrhosis is 15-20 years,” he said. “That’s a long time.”…
Continued via… Source: Increase in hepatitis C cases cause for concern