Chances are you haven’t given much thought to hepatitis. That is, until recently. Whether its new information about vaccines for hepatitis A and B or the push to get baby boomers screened for hepatitis C, its spiked the interest of many. But these may not be the only reasons hepatitis has become a blast from the past.
In fact, experts have found that new hepatitis C infections in the US have nearly tripled over five years, reaching a 15-year high. What’s even more concerning, though, is that nearly half of all people with the liver infection don’t know it.
So, what does this mean for you? Well, the best place to start is with the common ways you can get hepatitis C. And by steering clear of these, you’re reducing your risk of contracting it.
5 Surprising Sources Of Hepatitis:
1. Nail Salons. When you step into a nail salon, your focus is on relaxation and feeling pampered, but some of the common instruments that are used may be harboring unexpected germs. Experts warn that nail files, drills, finger bowls, foot basins and buffers may be to blame. If they’re not properly cleaned and disinfected, you may unknowingly be exposed to someone else’s blood and/or germs.
2. Barber Shops. While traditional barber shops may be a dying breed, those that enjoy getting an old-fashioned shave with a straight razor should take note. Similar to tools used at nail salons, researchers have found that hepatitis C can be transmitted by straight razors; in some cases, even if they’ve been cleaned.
3. Toothbrushes and other hygiene items. It may not be too surprising to learn that toothbrushes, along with other personal hygiene items can be hotbeds for germs—100 million different types—which can include hepatitis C. Avoid sharing toothbrushes, razors or other personal items that may have trace amounts of blood on them.
4. Tattoo parlors. Once again, the importance of proper sterilization and cleaning becomes clear. When tattoo artists reuse equipment before cleaning it, use unsterilized needles or don’t wear latex gloves, you could be at risk. This is especially true considering your skin is being pierced by a needle and bleeding is expected.
5. Between the sheets. As a virus, hepatitis C is primarily transmitted through blood, but in rare cases, it can be contracted through bodily fluids, like semen. Sex can also result in broken skin or bleeding, which may increase your risk of exposure. Using barrier protection is your best defense.
Expert help for hepatitis. In addition to knowing some of the common sources of hepatitis C, it’s also important to know how to spot some of the most common symptoms. These include:
Flulike problems (fatigue, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and sore muscles and joints)
Tenderness in the upper right abdomen
Jaundice (yellowing skin)
Swelling in the belly
If you notice any of these symptoms, or believe you may be at risk for hepatitis C, make sure to work with your primary care provider. With a dedicated team of experts, the latest in diagnostics and treatment options and an extensive array of resources, Gwinnett Medical Group Primary Care is prepared to help.