Hepatitis C is a viral infection of the liver. This infection is transmitted through the blood and can lead to serious liver damage among other things. It causes liver inflammation and many other symptoms such as abdominal pain, vomiting, and diarrhea. Dark urine, yellowing of the skin, and fatigue are also some symptoms caused by viral hepatitis C. The good news is HCV is usually curable by taking oral medicines over a period of time.
Below are a couple of common questions and answers regarding Hepatitis C:
1. How is hepatitis C transmitted?
Viral Hepatitis C is transferred from person to person via blood. There are several ways the virus can enter the bloodstream. Shared drug needles, tattoo or piercing tools that have come in contact with infected blood and haven’t been cleaned, blood transfusions, and unprotected sex are all ways this virus can be transmitted.
2. Main risk factors of hepatitis C
You may be a high-risk factor if you have had a blood transfusion in the past, a recent tattoo, used drugs via needle injection, or had unprotected sex. Other common risk factors are having a spouse or partner that is infected, having HIV or a compromised immune system, or if you are a health care worker around needles often.
3. The main symptoms of hepatitis C
Generally, most people do not have symptoms from Hepatitis C. This virus typically stays silent for many years until the liver becomes damaged. Once the liver becomes damaged there are many noticeable symptoms. These symptoms can include fatigue, weight loss, fluid buildup in the abdomen, dark colored urine, easy bruising and bleeding, itchy skin, and confusion.
4. Is hepatitis C curable?
Fortunately, HCV is curable. Being cured simply means it is no longer found in your bloodstream. With Hepatitis C, your doctor will want to make sure there is no sign of the virus left in your blood 12 weeks or more after treatment. Treatment consists of doses of DAAs or Direct Acting Antivirals taken over a course of time.
5. Acute vs. chronic hepatitis C
Acute Hepatitis C is the early stage of the virus, when you have only had it for a few months. This is when it is silent most of the time so there are no apparent symptoms. Chronic Hepatitis is when you have had the virus for at least 6 months. Your doctor will treat the virus according to whether it is chronic or acute. Most of the time acute Hepatitis will go away on it’s own while chronic will need to be treated to prevent liver damage.
6. How does hepatitis C affect the liver?
Hepatitis C causes damage and death to liver cells. This damage leads to inflammation which also leads to scarring or fibrosis. The death of liver cells prompts the body to send inflammatory cells to the area that is affected. This inflammation causes the liver to swell which causes pain. Because of this whole process scar tissue can start to build up around the cells.
There are some precautions that can be taken regarding Hepatitis C prevention. Never share needles, steer clear of blood exposure, have protected sex, and choose tattoo and piercing places that have a good reputation and are clean. The more cautious you are the more likely you are to avoid contracting Hepatitis C.