Know the basics
What is hepatitis c?
Hepatitis C refers to a condition when your livers is attacked by hepatitis C virus. Having a hepatitis C virus infection can lead to inflammation in the liver, causing many side effects. Hepatitis C virus is one of several common hepatitis viruses and is generally considered to be among the most serious of these viruses. Many people find out they have hepatitis C virus during their medical checkup. This is why you should always get an annual medical checkup. Because hepatitis C causes no symptoms, you may not realize that you got it until signs of liver damage shows up decades later.
How common is hepatitis c?
This health condition is common. It can affect patients at any age. In Asia, it is among the most common health conditions according to World Health Organization (WHO) research. It can be managed by reducing your risk factors. Please discuss with your doctor for further information.
Know the symptoms
What are the symptoms of hepatitis c?
In mild cases, if you have hepatitis C, your body can show no symptoms until your condition turn into a more serious infection. The common signs and symptoms of hepatitis C infection in the earliest period are :
- Nausea or poor appetite;
- Stomach pain;
- Dark-colored urine;
- Yellow discoloration in the skin and eyes (jaundice);
- Muscle and joint pains.
Then, as the infection becomes more severe, signs and symptoms may include:
- Bleeding and bruising easily;
- Itchy skin;
- Fluid accumulation in your abdomen (ascites);
- Swelling in your legs;
- Weight loss;
- Confusion, drowsiness and slurred speech;
- Spider-like blood vessels on your skin (spider angiomas).
There may be some signs or symptoms not listed above. If you have any concerns about a symptom, please consult your doctor.
When should I see my doctor?
If you have any signs or symptoms listed above or have any questions, please consult with your doctor. Everyone’s body acts differently. It is always best to discuss with your doctor what is best for your situation.
Know the causes
What causes hepatitis c?
The most common cause of hepatitis C infection is the hepatitis C virus (HCV). You can get this kind of virus when you come in contact with blood contaminated with the virus from an infected person, or when you contact with patches of dried blood on surfaces for up to several weeks, even it is just a small trace. Although other bodily fluids can also contain the virus, blood are the most common reason for spreading hepatitis C virus as it has the highest concentration of virus.
Other ways that hepatitis C virus spreads are sharing drugs and needles; having unprotected sex, especially if you have an STD, or having sex with multiple partners. You might catch hepatitis C virus if you share needle with an infected person or if you have HIV (human immunodeficiency virus) – a condition that will reduce your body immunity. A woman who is living with hepatitis C can also pass it to her baby. Hepatitis C isn’t spread through food, water, or by casual contact.
Know the risk factors
What increases my risk for hepatitis c?
There are many risk factors for hepatitis C, such as:
- You are in frequent contact with infected person, such as healthcare providers or main caregiver to a patient.
- You are using illicit drugs or have HIV.
- You share a tattoo needle with another person or have a tattoo from an unclean parlor.
- You received hemodialysis treatments for a long period of time.
- Sometimes people may have hepatitis C if they have experience with some of the old health care technologies, such as blood transfusion or organ transplant before 1992, or received clotting factor concentrates before 1987.
- You were born between 1945 and 1965, the age group with the highest incidence of hepatitis C infection.
Understand the diagnosis & treatment
The information provided is not a substitute for any medical advice. ALWAYS consult with your doctor for more information.
How is hepatitis c diagnosed?
Your doctor will request some tests for hepatitis C infection if your doctor suspects that you have a high risk of coming in contact with the virus. This may help your doctor begin treatment or recommend lifestyle changes that may slow liver damage. In fact, hepatitis C infection often begins damaging the liver in lone time before you can see signs and symptoms, so this is a good way.
Blood tests to diagnose hepatitis C are necessary to help check if you have the hepatitis C virus, to help measure the quantity of the hepatitis C virus in your blood, to help evaluate the genetic makeup of the virus which helps determine your treatment options.
Testing samples of liver tissue can be required to help your doctor assess how severe your liver is damaged. A small sample of your liver tissue needs to be removed for laboratory testing. While a liver biopsy can help determine the severity of the disease and guide treatment decisions.
How is hepatitis c treated?
A combination of medicines that prevent the virus from multiplying inside the body can treat your hepatitis effectively, but it can take you for several months to work. Two main medications you can take are pegylated interferon and ribavirin, including simeprevir, sofosbuvir and daclatasvir. It is reported that the percentage of patients with hepatitis who are cured with these latest medication is up to 90%. In fact, you still follow some steps to reduce the risk of becoming infected again.
A liver transplant is the required option in case your liver has been damaged seriously. During a liver transplant, your damaged liver can be removed and replaced with a healthy liver. However, this doesen’t mean that you are cured. You still need to apply antiviral medications usually after a liver transplant because hepatitis C infection is likely to recur in the new liver.
Vaccinations don’t help you to treat your hepatitis C, but there are some ones that help prevent you from hepatitis A and B viruses. These are separate viruses that also can cause liver damage and complicate treatment of hepatitis C.
Lifestyle changes & home remedies
What are some lifestyle changes or home remedies that can help me manage hepatitis c?
The following lifestyles and home remedies might help you cope with hepatitis C:
- Stop drinking alcohol;
- Avoid medications that may cause liver damage;
- Help prevent others from coming in contact with your blood by covering any wounds you have and not sharing razors or toothbrushes.
- Don’t donate blood, body organs or semen, and advise health care workers that you have the virus.
If you have any questions, please consult with your doctor to better understand the best solution for you.
Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.
Review Date: May 30, 2016 | Last Modified: January 4, 2017
Hepatitis C. http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/hepatitis-c/basics/definition/con-20030618. Accessed July 10, 2016.
Hepatitis C. http://www.nhs.uk/Conditions/Hepatitis-C/Pages/Introduction.aspx. Accessed July 10, 2016.