Chronic liver disease is a leading cause of death for many African Americans. Black men are especially suffering at staggering rates. Seventy percent of our men are more likely to have liver disease than any other race while our sisters are 1.4 times more likely to die from liver cancer than the rest of their counterparts. According to the U.S Department of Health and Human Services Office of Minority Health, the cause of these alarming numbers aren’t explicitly known, but factors such as alcoholism, obesity and exposure to the hepatitis C virus contribute to this disease.
Hepatitis C causes severe problems to the liver. The symptoms can be so subtle that people won’t even know they have it. Scary, right? Most people will think the fatigue is coming from some other area such as being overworked, general sleepiness or stress. A closer look at one’s blood will reveal this debilitating disease. The virus is spread by blood coming in contact with another person who is not infected.
In the past, the virus was spread widely by blood transfusion and organ transplants. Current medical screenings have improved to eliminate the possibility of this happening. The virus is now spread mostly from intravenous drug use and babies being infected in the womb by a mother with the virus.
While the uninsured rates of African Americans are decreasing, the issue of coverage still looms for one of our greatest illnesses. Hepatitis C is often not treated for patients with less severe forms of the virus. This lack of concern is contributing to the growing problem of liver cancer and death in the Black community. Treatment for this disease is very expensive and Medicaid/Medicare often doesn’t treat patients if they’re not “debilitated” by the virus. To date, there is no cure for hepatitis C.
Here are some ways to fight fatigue brought on by hepatitis C if your insurance company is tripping.
I know this initially sounds silly. Why would I work out to get more energy? According to the Mayo Clinic, exercise and physical activity delivers the necessary oxygen and nutrients to your cardiovascular system. As the lungs and heart work better, so will your energy. Try something small out first. A light walk is a good way to start off. Figure out what distance works for you. Who knows, you might be jogging and eventually running as your energy increases.