Hepatitis C Facts, Symptoms, and Treatment Options

By Nick Gold

Hepatitis C is a form of liver inflammation like hepatitis A and B. A virus causes it and it can significantly impair the liver’s ability to function normally. This disease can appear as a result of an unhealthy lifestyle, toxins accumulated in the liver or by taking certain medications.

Acute hepatitis C

Just like hepatitis B, hepatitis C also has two stages. The milder one is the acute stage, and it usually lasts for approximately six months. This is when symptoms occur, but few people experience them. Approximately 20% of people can eliminate the hepatitis C virus from the system completely and without treatment.

Chronic hepatitis C

The second stage of the disease is the chronic stage. Most people eventually end up with chronic hepatitis C (especially those who find about it too late), and this can be a lifelong struggle. Complications of hepatitis C can lead to liver failure, liver cancer, and other serious medical conditions.

Hepatitis C transmission methods

Unlike other forms of hepatitis which are more contagious (such as hepatitis A), the hepatitis C virus can be spread if the blood of an infected person gets into the body of a healthy person. For example:

· Sharing needles or syringes for drug use can significantly increase the chances of getting hepatitis C into the body

· Getting a tattoo or piercing using contaminated equipment can also spread the virus

Other transmission methods include:

· Having unprotected sex with an infected person (rare cases)

· Infected mothers can transmit the virus to their babies (in less than 10% of cases)

It is important to mention here that people who have sex with multiple partners or those who have other STDs such as HIV are more likely to get the hepatitis C virus. Like the hepatitis B virus, hepatitis C cannot be transmitted by shaking hands or kissing an infected person.

Hepatitis C symptoms, testing, and treatment

Most patients who have the hepatitis C virus in their bloodstream are asymptomatic. However, when the symptoms do occur, they usually show up in the first six months from the moment of infection. The symptoms can include nausea, vomiting, fevers, loss of appetite, fatigue, yellow eyes, and dark urine.

Testing for hepatitis C can be done using a blood sample and an antibody test. If the test comes back positive, then it means that the person in question got the hepatitis C virus into his system. However, an RNA test is also required to determine whether the person in question still has the virus in the body.

Treating hepatitis C should be done according to the specific instructions of the healthcare provider. This disease can be cured if the treatment is followed correctly. Most doctors prescribe certain medications, rest, and constant monitoring of the liver activity to slow down or completely stop the damage done by the virus.

Who should be tested for hepatitis C?

Most people, especially those who are sexually active, should test for the hepatitis C virus as part of a yearly routine test. However, some people are at a higher risk, and they should prioritize getting tested to avoid serious complications.

· People who are on hemodialysis should do a hepatitis C test as well as people who were previously exposed to blood samples from infected people

· Children who have infected mothers should also be tested

· People born between 1945 and 1965 when the virus was more common

· People who donated blood before 1992

· People who have HIV or AIDS as well as other liver diseases

Preventing hepatitis C

Unlike hepatitis A and B, there’s no known vaccine for hepatitis C. However; one can take some safety precautions to prevent getting this illness such as:

· Not getting tattoos or body piercings in unlicensed facilities which might use unsterile needles

· Avoid sharing personal items which might have come in contact with an infected person’s blood such as glucose monitors, clippers, toothbrushes, etc.

· Avoid sharing syringes for injecting drugs or steroids

Using a latex condom while having sex is also one of the best and cheapest ways of preventing hepatitis C as well as other STDs.

Hepatitis C summarized

· Hepatitis C is a liver inflammation which can develop into a lifelong medical condition if not treated immediately

· There are two stages to hepatitis C – acute stage and chronic stage.

· The acute stage usually lasts for up to 6 months, and some symptoms might occur in certain patients

· Most people who don’t get treatment during the acute stage can transition to the chronic stage of hepatitis C which is more difficult to manage

· The chronic stage can cause even more damage to the liver, leading to cirrhosis, liver cancer or liver failure

· Those who see some symptoms might experience vomiting, fatigue, loss of appetite, grey stool, joint pains, and dark urine

· Hepatitis C can be transmitted by sharing needles or syringes for drug injections with an infected person

· Infected mothers can transmit the virus to their infants, but this happens rarely

· Testing for the hepatitis C virus is done using an antibody test as well as an RNA test

· People who are diagnosed with this illness receive certain medication to help to eliminate the virus. One should consult with his healthcare provider for more information

· Preventing hepatitis C can be done by not sharing needles or syringes with infected persons for drug or steroid injections

· People should also visit licensed tattoo or body piercing facilities only since unsterilized equipment can also transmit this virus

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