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April 28, 2017 06:27 PM

Hepatitis C Can Be Hard To Find Without Symptoms

According to the CDC, roughly 3.2 million people are living with hepatitis C in the U.S. and have no idea they are even sick. 

Jim Stout is a proud husband, dad and grandfather. He's so much of a family man that he moved from Denver to Sioux Falls to be closer to his family. Having a close family has also been a big help when it comes to doctor's visits and trips to the clinic, something he unfortunately is no stranger to.

"I had some nausea when I would eat. I don't know how to describe it, I just didn't feel good," Stout said.

Stout wasn't sure what was wrong, until a blood screening was done after he suffered a very serious accident that nearly took his life.

"I had four major surgeries, I broke five ribs, punctured my lungs and perforated a bowel. They put me back together, and here I am. That's when they found the hepatitis," Stout said.

As horrific as it was, Stout says if he had never gone through that serious accident his doctors may have never discovered he was very sick from hepatitis C. So after knee surgery, back surgery and regular check-ups for his diabetes, how did doctor's never know?

"The tricky part about hepatitis C is that a lot of people who have chronic Hepatitis C, don't have any symptoms at all so that's why we push for the screenings. People can have it for many years and not know it but it can lead to chronic liver disease," Sanford Family Medicine Dr. Christina Olson said.

She says there are people who are at high risk for Hepatitis C and need to get screened. First, is anyone born between 1945 and 1965.

"Those that have used or currently use IV drugs in the past, others would be history of incarceration, intranasal drug use or unregulated tattoos," Olson said

The final group at highest risk is anyone who had a blood transfusion before 1992, because blood wasn't screened for the disease before then. Stout unfortunately fell into that category. 

So if you are coming into the doctor's office for any reason just ask for a screening of Hepatitis C, you'll get the results in a couple of days.

Stout says it best.

"A simple blood screen is easy, everybody can stand a needle for a few seconds and it could save your life," Stout said

Doctors immediately put Stout on medication and after two months he was completely cured. Olson says that's why screenings are so important, so that it can be caught early before it permanently damages a patient's liver.

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