What is Hepatitis C: Facts, Symptoms and Treatment
|Hepatitis C. Photo: Medlineplus.gov|
What is Hepatitis C?
According to liverfoundation.com, hepatitis C is a disease caused by a virus that infects the liver. The virus, called the Hepatitis C virus or HCV for short, is just one of the hepatitis viruses. You get this type from contact with infected blood, such as with used drug or tattoo needles, as listed in the Webmdcom.
The other common hepatitis viruses are A and B, which differ somewhat from HCV in the way they are spread and treated. According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), an estimated 2.7 million people in the United States have chronic Hepatitis C infection.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) state that approximately 70 to 80 per cent trusted Source of people with hepatitis C doesn’t have symptoms. While this is true, some people report mild to severe symptoms. These symptoms include:
The symptoms may not show up right away. Some may take six to seven weeks to appear.
2. dark urine
3. loss of appetite
4. abdominal pain or discomfort
5. joint pain
Every chronic hepatitis C infection starts with an acute phase. Acute hepatitis C usually goes undiagnosed because it rarely causes symptoms. When signs and symptoms are present, they may include jaundice, along with fatigue, nausea, fever and muscle aches. Acute symptoms appear one to three months after exposure to the virus and last two weeks to three months.
Acute hepatitis C infection doesn't always become chronic. Some people clear HCV from their bodies after the acute phase, an outcome known as spontaneous viral clearance. In studies of people diagnosed with acute HCV, rates of spontaneous viral clearance have varied from 15% to 25%. Acute hepatitis C also responds well to antiviral therapy, Mayo Clinic said.
Hepatitis C symptoms in men
Healthlines.com reveals that hepatitis C symptoms in men are the same as in women. However, men are less likely to fight off the virus than women. Hepatitis C in men may stay in their systems longer and may be more likely to cause symptoms in men. Learn more about how hepatitis C affects men.
Your risk of hepatitis C infection is increased if you:
- Are a health care worker who has been exposed to infected blood, which may happen if an infected needle pierces your skin
- Have ever injected or inhaled illicit drugs
- Have HIV
- Received a piercing or tattoo in an unclean environment using unsterile equipment
- Received a blood transfusion or organ transplant before 1992
- Received clotting factor concentrates before 1987
- Received hemodialysis treatments for a long period of time
- Were born to a woman with a hepatitis C infection
- Were ever in prison
- Were born between 1945 and 1965, the age group with the highest incidence of hepatitis C infection
Hepatitis C infection that continues over many years can cause significant complications, such as:
- Scarring of the liver (cirrhosis). After decades of hepatitis C infection, cirrhosis may occur. Scarring in your liver makes it difficult for your liver to function.
- Liver cancer. A small number of people with hepatitis C infection may develop liver cancer.
- Liver failure. Advanced cirrhosis may cause your liver to stop functioning.
It is not necessary for everyone infected Hepatitis C to have a treatment.
For some people, their immune systems may be able to fight the infection well enough to clear the infection from their bodies. If this is the case for you, your doctor will probably want to monitor your liver function with regular blood tests.
For people with immune systems that can’t clear the infection, there are several options for treating hepatitis C. Treatment is usually reserved for people with serious liver damage and scarring, and no other conditions that prevent treatment.
Past hepatitis C treatment regimens required weekly injections for 48 weeks. This treatment had the risk of significant and sometimes life-threatening side effects. Newly developed antiviral medications now have higher cure rates and fewer adverse side effects. They also require a shorter treatment period. Your doctor may decide whether antiviral treatment is likely to provide more benefit than harm.
Hepatitis C medications
There are many medications used to treat hepatitis C. These include interferons and antivirals.
There are several HCV genotypes and not all hepatitis medications treat all HCV infections.
Once your doctor knows your hepatitis C genotype, they have a better idea of which medication will work the best for you.
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