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How inhaling substances through the nose increases risk for hepatitis C

the nose increases risk for hepatitis C
It is commonly known that injecting drugs and sharing needles can cause the spread of viral diseases, but people do not realize that illnesses can enter the body through the eyes, nose and mouth. An injection is not the only way to catch a blood borne virus, and since the nose is also a popular way to ingest drugs, this puts some people at a higher risk than others. In general, people will share snorting devices to inhale a substance such as cocaine, methamphetamines and heroin through the nasal area. Even though there are many illnesses that can enter the body, the dominant virus spread by this technique is hepatitis C. The virus is transmitted via infected blood, causing a chronic disease that attacks the liver and leads to inflammation that can cause cirrhosis, liver cancer and liver failure.

There is no vaccine for HCV, as it is transmitted through contaminated blood products such as a straw. Even a microscopic amount of blood that cannot be seen by the naked eye is enough to spread the virus. When snorting drugs, the inner lining of the nose becomes irritated and causes breaks in the capillaries where the virus is exposed even if blood is not seen. Snorting drugs usually numbs the nose making it less likely to notice the damage caused by the drugs. The euphoric feeling of the drugs also worsens the situation, making people more careless and likely to make reckless decisions that lead to the transmission of the virus. states that currently more than 5 million people in the United States are infected with hepatitis C and perhaps as many as 200 million people around the world, making it one of the greatest public health threats to confront during this century. It is crucial that efforts to contain the spread of the disease are taken, otherwise the death rate from hepatitis C may surpass that of AIDS.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the hepatitis C virus can survive outside the body at room temperature for up to three weeks, putting one at even more risk especially while using a rolled up dollar bill to inhale the substance. Money is filled with germs and, when used by people to inhale drugs, often increases the chances of catching the virus. People frequently use disinfected surfaces to snort off of even though the virus can still live on these objects.

Considering that HCV is spread through blood contact, Hepatitis C New Drug Research and Liver Health states that this can even be done by sharing razors, nail clippers and toothbrushes, proving that a more invasive procedure such as sharing a snorting tool while inhaling drugs can very well spread the virus. Keep in mind that nasal secretions increase with this method of drug intake and this causes a higher risk to transfer unsightly blood molecules that make transmission of HCV more likely.

Many people living with HCV don’t even know they have the virus. According to the CDC, “Approximately 70 percent to 80 percent of people with acute Hepatitis C do not have any symptoms. Some people, however, can have mild to severe symptoms soon after being infected, including fever, fatigue, loss of appetite, nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain, dark urine, clay-colored bowel movements, joint pain, jaundice (yellow color in the skin or eyes). If symptoms occur, the average time is six to seven weeks after exposure, but this can range from two weeks to six months. However, many people infected with the hepatitis C virus do not develop symptoms.”

If someone believes he or she has been at risk of contracting HCV, it is very important to get checked by getting a blood test immediately while the virus is still acute before it becomes chronic. According to the CDC, hepatitis C ranges in severity from a mild illness lasting a few weeks to a serious, lifelong illness that occurs when the virus remains in a person’s body. Approximately 75 percent to 85 percent of people who become infected with the hepatitis C virus develop chronic infection.

California Local Health Jurisdiction Chronic Viral Hepatitis Data Summaries states that as of 2011, 3,257,546 people suffer from chronic hepatitis C in Orange County. Knowing the severity of the virus and how it can be transferred can decrease the possibility of spreading the virus.


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