Hepatitis C: Hepatitis is a liver disease which is caused by the hepatitis C virus that attacks the liver. Most of the people who become infected with hepatitis C never feel sick and recover completely. If your body is not able to fight the virus, you can develop chronic hepatitis which may lead to cirrhosis of the liver, liver failure and even liver cancer later in life.
Chronic hepatitis B & chronic hepatitis C is a “silent” disease because often have no symptoms appear until your liver is severely damaged.
Symptoms of Hepatitis C
Hepatitis C often doesn’t have any noticeable symptoms until the liver has been significantly damaged. The acute infection phase and can last from six to eight weeks, or longer. Symptoms may include:
- Flu-like symptoms, such as muscle aches and a high temperature (pyrexia)
- Feeling tired all the time
- Reduced appetite
- Abdominal pain
The only way to know for certain if these symptoms are caused by hepatitis C is to get tested.
Causes of Hepatitis C
The hepatitis C virus causes hepatitis C. The hepatitis C virus can spread through contact with an infected person’s blood. Contact may also occur by-
- Sharing drug needles
- Getting an accidental stick with a needle that used on an infected person
- Being tattooed that were used on an infected person and were not properly sterilized
- Having contact with the blood of an infected person
- Using a razor, toothbrush, or nail clippers(an infected people )
- Mother with hepatitis C
- Unprotected sex with an infected person
Diagnosis of Hepatitis C
Getting tested for hepatitis C
A blood test can be carried out to see if you have the infection. Your local health clinic, genitourinary medicine (GUM) clinic all offer testing for hepatitis C.
Early diagnosis and treatment of hepatitis C can help prevent or limit any damage to your liver, as well as help ensure the infection isn’t passed to other people.
A non-reactive or negative test means that a person is not currently infected with the hepatitis C virus.
A reactive or positive test means a person has been infected with the hepatitis C virus at some point in time. Most people who infected with the hepatitis C virus, develop chronic infection. However, about 25% of people who contract the hepatitis C virus, are able to get rid of or ‘clear’ the virus without any treatment.
Treatments for Hepatitis C
Hepatitis C is treating with a combination of medicines that stop the virus multiplying inside your body. This treatment usually needs to be taken for several months.
Most people will take two main medications called pegylated interferon (injection for a week) and ribavirin (a tablet or capsule ), although the newer tablet is likely to replace the interferon injections for most people in very near future.
Newer hepatitis C medications have been found to make treatment more effective. That includes simeprevir, sofosbuvir, and daclatasvir.
Using these latest medications, up to 90% or more of people with hepatitis C may be cured.
How can I avoid getting hepatitis C?
There is no vaccine to protect against hepatitis C. Take the following precautions:
- Avoid sharing personal hygiene items ( razors, toothbrushes, nail clippers)
- Adopt safe sex practices
- Do not share needles
If you decide to have a tattoo, manicure, pedicure or piercing, ensure that the facility uses single-use needles and inks and/or follows proper sterilization procedures.
Complications of Hepatitis C
Hepatitis C may lead to cirrhosis, liver failure, and liver cancer if not treated this condition. Early diagnosis and treatment can prevent these complications.
Cirrhosis is a condition in which the liver slowly breaks down and unable to function normally. Scar tissue replaces healthy liver tissue and partially blocks the blood flow through the liver & the liver begins to fail.
End-stage liver disease, liver failure progresses over months, years, or even decades.
In the case of chronic hepatitis C increases your chance of developing liver cancer.