Hepatitis C or HCV
What is Hepatitis C or HCV?
Hepatitis C or HCV is a disease where the liver is infected by the Hepatitis C virus. This infection can lead to acute or chronic hepatitis depending on the severity of the infection. In fact, Hepatitis C is one of the leading causes of liver cancer. Hepatitis C spreads by contact with contaminated blood like sharing needles, unscreened blood transfer, and so on. While most people affected by this virus show no symptoms others tend to exhibit fatigue, loss of appetite, nausea, yellowing of the skin, and eyes.
Hepatitis C Symptoms
While short term Hepatitis C infection is known as acute hepatitis C, long term infection is known as chronic hepatitis C. In most chronic cases, the infection remains silent for several years while damaging the liver slowly till HCV symptoms and signs of liver damage start being exhibited. Some of the commonly seen Hep C symptoms include:
- Bleeding easily
- Bruising easily
- Poor appetite
- Dark-colored urine
- Yellow-colored eyes and skin
- Itchy skin
- Swelling in the legs
- Fluid build-up in the abdomen
- Spider Like blood vessels on the skin
- Weight loss
- Slurred speech
Early symptoms of Hep C often go unnoticed in an acute hepatitis c patient. Even in acute infection cases, the symptoms take at least two weeks to three months to exhibit themselves. However, an accurate diagnosis of acute Hep C infection can prevent it from turning into a chronic infection. Hep C symptoms female is similar to those in an infected male.
Who is at Risk?
The common risk factors of Hepatitis C include:
- Exposure to infected blood
- Use of illicit drugs
- HIV positive
- Tattoo piercing with unsterile equipment
- Blood transfusion before 1992
- Organ transplant before 1987
- On hemodialysis treatment for a long time
- Born to a mother who has Hep C infection
- Been to prison or jail
Studies have shown that people born between the years 1945 and 1965 tend to have a higher chance of hepatitis C infection.
Hepatitis C Causes
One of the main HCV causes is through contact with contaminated blood. In order for the infection to transmit itself from one person to the next, the blood of the infected person needs to enter the body of an uninfected person. This is why it is crucial to use only sterile syringes in every instance. However, you cannot contract the virus from breathing, casual contact, kissing, breathing, or even sharing food. People who have unsafe sex with multiple partners are at a higher risk of getting Hepatitis C infection.
How Is Hepatitis C Diagnosed?
Diagnosing Hep C is done by medical professionals with the help of a series of blood tests:
- Blood Test: The blood test looks for hepatitis C antibodies in your blood. If the test result is positive it means that you have been exposed to the virus. This is why doctors prescribe a second test when the first one is positive.
- Hepatitis C RNA test: The second test checks whether the Hepatitis C virus is still present in your blood.
- Genotype test: Once the above two HCV testing results come back as positive, it is time to identify the type of Hep C virus present in your blood. There are six different types of Hep C virus.
In case the patient has had Hep C for a long time, further tests will be prescribed to check for liver damage and rule out any other causes of the damage as well. This usually includes ultrasound scans, liver biopsy, and so on.
How Is Hepatitis C Treated?
HCV treatment often depends on the severity of the infection. According to Hep C doctors, antiviral medications can help you recover from the infection if you only have a mild version of it. In case you have had the infection for a long time, thereby causing major liver damage, you might have to opt for a liver transplant. This HCV cure involves replacing your damaged liver with a healthy one. This will also be accompanied by antiviral medication to prevent the new liver from getting damaged by Hep C. This is why it is essential to meet a hepatologist as soon as possible if you show signs of Hep C infection.
How can Hepatitis C Infection be Prevented?
In order to protect yourself from acute as well as chronic Hepatitis C infection, you need to stop using illicit drugs, be extremely cautious about tattooing and body piercing, practice safe sex, avoid multiple sex partners, use only sterile needles and so on. By being vigilant and cautious, you can prevent falling victim to Hepatitis C and le