Natalie Cole's representative has confirmed that Natalie Cole was diagnosed with hepatitis C. Cole was forced to pull out of a concert in California last week due to the chronic illness.
Hepatitis C is a blood-borne disease which means it is spread through contact with infected blood such as blood transfusions, using dirty needles, body piercings, tattoos, or in Natalie's case, by snorting cocaine. Sexual transmission of hep C is rare except in cases where an individual is infected with HIV.
Hepatitis C is usually diagnosed by accident since most patients don't show symptoms until the liver is affected. Chronic Hepatitis C (longterm infection) can cause inflammation of the liver (hepatitis). Most people stricken with hepatitis C show no symptoms sometimes for many years. Those who do show symptoms have advanced to cirrhosis of the liver and ultimately, liver failure.
About one third of patients infected with hepatitis C develop conditions like portal hypertension (increased pressure in the liver) which leads to esophageal varices (distended veins in the esophagus, the tube which delivers food to the stomach). This condition manifests itself in projectile vomiting of pure blood when the varices burst and blood fills the stomach.
Signs and symptoms of hepatitis C are usually vague. They include:
- fatigue (feeling sleepy all the time)
- abdominal pain
- ascites (abdominal swelling)
- jaundice (yellowing of the eyes and skin)
- nausea and vomiting
Consult your personal physician if you experience any of these signs/symptoms or if you have any questions. This has been your medical minute.