What is Hepatitis C? Its Symptoms, Causes and Treatment
December 16, 2021
Hepatitis C refers to a viral infection that leads to liver inflammation and can sometimes lead to severe liver damage. This viral infection spreads through the contaminated blood. While discussing its recent treatment, the health condition requires weekly injections and oral medications that several Hepatitis C virus-infected people couldn’t consume due to the other health issues and unacceptable side effects. While this has been followed until now, things have changed now. According to today’s scenario, the chronic Hepatitis C virus (HCV) is curable with oral medications taken every day for around two to six months. But still, around half of the HCV patients don’t know that they are infected as they do not have any symptoms that generally take decades to appear. Let us get acquainted with everything you need to know about your health condition.
Symptoms of Hepatitis C Virus
Long-term infection with HCV is chronic hepatitis C. Chronic HCV is usually a silent infection for several years until the infection damages the liver enough to cause the symptoms of liver disease.
The signs of HCV include
- Bruising easily
- Bleeding easily
- Poor appetite
- Itchy skin
- Dark-colored urine
- Yellow discoloration of eyes and skin
- Swelling in the legs
- Fluid buildup in the abdomen
- Slurred speech
- Weight loss
- Spider Like blood vessels on the skin
Every chronic HCV infection begins with an acute phase that usually goes undiagnosed because it rarely causes symptoms. Acute symptoms appear one to three months post-exposure to the virus and can last up to two to three months.
Causes of Hepatitis C Virus
Hepatitis C health condition is caused due to the Hepatitis C virus that spreads when the blood is contaminated with the virus and enters an uninfected person’s bloodstream.
Risk Factors included!
The risk of getting infected by Hepatitis C is increased if a person:
- Is a health care worker who has been exposed to the infected blood
- Have HIV
- Have inhaled or injected illicit drugs
- Received a tattoo or piercing in an unclean environment
- Received clotting factor concentrated before 1987
- Received organ transplant or blood transfusion before 1992
- Is born to a woman with HCV
- Is ever in prison
- Received hemodialysis treatment for a long time
- Is born between 1945 and 1965 as the age group has a higher incidence of HCV
HCV that continues over several years can lead to significant complications like:
- Scarring of liver
- Liver Cancer
- Liver Failure
Prevention from Disease
You can also protect yourself from Hepatitis C by taking the below-mentioned precautions:
- Stop using illicit drugs, especially if you inject them
- Be cautious about body tattooing and piercing
- Practice safer sex
Diagnosis of Hepatitis C Virus
The US Preventive Services Task Force recommends that adults ages 18 to 79 be screened for Hepatitis C.
However, screening for HCV is essential; if you are at a higher exposure risk, including:
- Anyone who has ever inhaled or injected illicit drugs
- Babies born to mothers with HCV
- Anyone with an abnormal liver functioning tests results with no identified cause.
- People with hemophilia
- People with HIV infection
- Anyone born from 1945 to 1965
- Emergency workers and health care workers who have been exposed to blood or accidental needle sticks.
- People who accepted organ transplants or blood transfusions before 1992
- People who have undergone the long term hemodialysis treatments
- Sexual partners of anyone diagnosed with HVC
Other blood tests for diagnosis
If an initial blood test indicates that a person has Hepatitis C, the additional blood tests required for the confirmation include:
- Measuring the quantity of HVC in the blood
- Identify the virus’ genotype
- Tests for Liver damage
Doctors usually use one or more of the below mentioned to assess liver damage in chronic HCV. This includes:
- Magnetic Resonance Elastographyv
- Transient Elastography
- Liver Biopsy
- Blood Tests
The treatments to deal with the HCV includes
- Antiviral medications
HCV can be treated with antiviral medications that are aimed at clearing the virus from the body. The goal of the treatment is to have no HCV detected in the body at least 12 weeks post completion of the treatment.
- Liver Transplantation
If a person is experiencing severe complications from chronic HCV, liver transplantation can be a useful option. During the transplantation, the surgeon eradicates the damaged liver and replaces it with a healthy liver.
Since there is no vaccine for Hepatitis C, the medical doctors recommend you receive the vaccine against Hepatitis A and B viruses.
The health condition is challenging to cope with but can be managed well if diagnosed on time. People are more inclined towards natural remedies to deal with health conditions. So, before choosing the treatment, the medical doctor’s diagnosis and recommendation are essential.
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