It’s quite natural to get worried when it comes to your child’s health. We get goose-bumps when we hear children getting affected with Hepatitis C, don’t we? So, it’s important to understand what exactly Hepatitis C is all about.
What is Hepatitis C?
Hepatitis C is inflammation of the liver occurring due to Hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection. Hepatitis C is found to be less common in children than in adults.
The Frequency Of HCV In Children & Adolescents
Hepatitis C affects 4%–10% of children who are born to the HCV infected mothers, and 80% of them happen to develop chronic infection. Medical surveys & studies reveal that about 0.15% of children of age 6-11 years happen to get HCV. Also, this infection occurs in 0.4% of teenagers of age 12-19 years.
How Do Children Acquire HCV?
Most children happen to get infected with Hepatitis C Virus at birth. As this infection is transmitted from the mother to her newborn child, it is called vertical transmission. If a mother is infected with HCV, her baby has a one in 20 chances (i.e. 5%) to get infected with HCV at birth.
Adolescents Acquire HCV Similar To Adults:
Adolescents happen to acquire HCV just like adults. Here are some ways that explain how adolescent get HCV.
- Blood/Blood Component Transfusion: When any blood (or blood component) transfusion is not screened, particularly for HCV, happens to be one of the most prominent sources of Hepatitis C infection.
- Infected Syringes: When HCV infected syringes are used for medicinal shots (such as painkillers, antibiotics, and others), it can put the teen or any other individual using it to the risk of getting infected with HCV. Also, when infected syringes are used by drug addicts, they become vulnerable to HCV.
- Tattoos: The needle, which is used in getting tattoos on the skin, can spread a blood-borne infection like HCV from one customer to another.
- Exposure To Infected Blood: When medical workers, such as nurses, ward staff, doctors, technicians, and others) are exposed to Hepatitis C infected blood, they are chances that they too might get the infection.
- Sharing Personal Items: When you happen to share personal hygiene care items, such as razors, blades, toothbrushes, nail-clippers, and others) of an HCV infected person or the items having HCV blood on them, it can put you to the risk of acquiring the same.
- Exposure to a Hepatitis C infected sex partner can make one get infected with it.
- Organ Transplantation: Undergoing an organ transplantation where the organ is HCV infected can make one acquire it.
- Kidney Dialysis: Going for kidney dialysis treatment for a long span may make one prone to HCV, if the dialysis machine happens to be tainted with HCV infected blood.
Symptoms Of Hepatitis C In Infants & Children:
- Loss of appetite
- Abdominal pain
- Joint pain
- Jaundice (yellowing of the eyes and skin)
- Darker colored urine
- Aches and pains
- Loose, light-colored stools
How Is Hepatitis C Diagnosed?
If a child is infected during birth, doctors will wait until the child turns 18 months to check for HCV.
Doctors will look out for various signs and symptoms. The patients with chronic hepatitis C usually undergo periodic tests to monitor their liver inflammation and function and look for the signs of serious liver disease.
A diagnostic test for Hepatitis C is recommended. This test comprises a thorough study of certain liver enzymes & antibodies pertaining to Hepatitis C in the blood. After 3 to 6 weeks, Anti HCV (Anti-Hepatitis C virus) antibodies may get detected. During the acute phase of this disease, Anti HCV might not get detected appropriately. ELISA test for Hepatitis C virus is considered to be a crucial diagnostic test to detect HCV antibodies, which diagnose this infection. Liver problems resulting due to HCV can be checked by an ultrasound test. Also, going for a liver biopsy can reveal you the scarring, swelling, and other liver damage occurring to your liver.
How Can Hepatitis C Be Treated?
- Acute Hepatitis C: If a child has acute hepatitis C, doctors recommend rest, healthy eating, and drinking plenty of fluids. Depending on the circumstances, some cases of acute hepatitis C may be treated.
- Chronic Hepatitis C: If we determine that the infection has lasted for more than 6 months, it leads to chronic Hepatitis C which, if not treated at that moment, may progressively damage the liver and lead to further complications, such as cirrhosis and liver cancer.
How Does Homeopathy Help In Treating Hepatitis C?
Homeopathic treatment acts wonderfully in treating Hepatitis C in the following ways
- Reducing the viral count and activity by stimulating the immune system.
- Treating the after-effects of tissue changes due to Hepatitis C virus.
- Reduction of symptoms of Hepatitis C(in symptomatic cases)
How Can Hepatitis C Spread Be Prevented?
Find below some care tips to follow to prevent the risk of getting infected with Hepatitis C virus.
- Avoid having a direct exposure to any blood or blood products.
- Never share personal hygiene care items, such as razors, blades, toothbrushes, nail clippers, and others.
- Make sure you and your child wash the hands regularly. Ensure all of you wash your hands after getting out of the bathroom and before you eat anything.
- Never ever share the needles.
- If your child has any scratches or open cuts, get them covered.
- Prevent your child from donating the blood. Even though these days donations are checked for Hepatitis C virus, but it’s best to avoid donating it.
- Talk to your teens or adolescents about safe sex.
- Make sure you choose tattoo & piercing parlors very carefully.
Now that you have learned all about Hepatitis C in children, follow the right preventive and care tips to avoid your dear little one from getting infected with HCV.
– Written by Dr. Karishma, Associate doctor to Dr. Rajesh Shah