Doc Talk | Hepatitis C testing for baby boomers
As the baby boomer generation continues to age they have a lot of issues to face.
Doctors say there's one disease in particular that's more prevalent in baby boomers than in any other generation.
Hepatitis C is a chronic viral infection that has no vaccine, very few to sometimes no symptoms and few treatment options.
Which is why doctors are now urging baby boomers to get screened for it, since they're finding baby boomers are the most likely generation to get Hepatitis C.
"It doesn’t have any signs and symptoms. It is a slow, chronic disease and it doesn’t manifest with any signs and symptoms for decades maybe," said Dr. Khem Adhikari, a Holy Spirit family physician.
Dr. Adhikari says because it lingers in the system so long, often times when people learn they have Hepatitis C, there's nothing they can do to treat it.
The survival rate once you get these symptoms is 60% only.
At that late stage in the disease, symptoms include jaundice, nausea, vomiting, stomach pain and an enlarged liver.
According to Dr. Adhikari, three million Americans suffer from Hepatitis C and three-fourths of those people are baby boomers.
So why is Hepatitis C so prevalent with the baby boomer generation?
"The wave of Hepatitis C that hit in the US was in the 60s, 70s, and 80s," according to Dr. Adhikari.
Dr. Adhikari says back then doctors didn't screen blood before performing transfusions or transplants, that's problem number one.
Problem number two, people sharing needles or syringes.
But if you're a baby boomer, not all hope is lost.
If caught early, doctors can treat Hepatitis C with drugs. There's just one thing baby boomers have to do.
"I highly recommend all the baby boomers to get Hepatitis C tested because that will save your life," said Dr. Adhikari. Adding that it is a simple blood test to find out whether you have Hepatitis C.
He says it should be covered by your insurance, just ask your doctor.