An Overview of Hepatitis C
Hepatitis C is a kind of liver disease which creates inflammation in the liver which can be very painful. This inflammation can cause the liver and kidneys to not function very well.
Causes of Hepatitis C
Anybody can get hepatitis C, although some people have higher risk, including:
- A person who was born from a mother having hepatitis C
- A Person having multiple sex partners during last 6 months or having history of an STD (Sexually Transmitted Disease)
- A Person having an organ transplant or blood transfusion before July 1992
- A person having hemophilia who had a blood transfusion before 1987
- A person using prohibited injection drugs
- People who used infected person’s toothbrush or razor
You CANNOT have hepatitis C from:
- Hugging the infected person
- Shaking hands with the infected person
- Sitting next to the infected person
Symptoms of Hepatitis C
Many people don’t have any symptoms until the Hepatitis C Virus causes liver damage; it can take up to 10 years for this to happen, in some cases. Others may have the following symptoms:
- Problems with blood clotting
- Dark yellow or orange urine
- Bruising easily
- Light colored stools
- Poor appetite
- Swollen ankles
- Swollen stomach (ascites)
- Nausea and vomiting
- Jaundice of the skin and eyes
Chronic Hepatitis C
In chronic hepatitis C, the virus can’t be cleared from the body. Without any treatments, chronic hepatitis C may cause liver cancer, scarring of liver which is known as cirrhosis and liver failure could occur in the end.
Hepatitis C can be diagnosed with the help of blood tests. Your doctor can suggest liver biopsy in case s/he is suspected of having chronic hepatitis C. A liver biopsy is a test to show liver damage. The doctor removes a small piece of liver to examine it under the magnification of a microscope.
If Hepatitis C isn’t taken care of in a timely manner it can become chronic. Chronic hepatitis C can be treated with drugs to stop the virus from damaging the liver.
Drugs for treating Chronic Hepatitis C
Chronic hepatitis C is generally treated with a combination of drugs such as ribavirin and peginterferon. Peginterferon is taken by weekly shots along with ribavirin which is taken daily by mouth. Treatment for chronic Hepatitis C lasts for about 24 - 48 weeks.
A liver transplant may be needed in case; the chronic hepatitis C causes liver failure. In liver transplant surgery, the failed liver is replaced with another healthy liver. But drug treatment must be continued as hepatitis C generally attacks once again after surgery.
How to protect yourself against Hepatitis C
You can guard yourself as well as others from hepatitis C. It is important to make sure that any body piercings or tattoos are done by professionals using sterile tools. If you have Hepatitis C, don’t donate your blood. Don’t ever share your razor, toothbrush, or anything that could possibly transfer blood or bodily fluids. If you work in the medical field, be sure to dispose of needles appropriately. Anyone using illegal drugs should never share needles with anyone else. It is vital to use a condom when having sexual relations. Caregivers who must touch wounds, urine, feces, blood and bodily fluids must wear protective gloves to be safe.