What is Hepatitis C?
This is a virus of the liver caused by the Hepatitis C Virus or HCV. The virus infects the liver and leads to serious damage. The virus is very contagious. Its severity ranges from having a mild illness that may last only a few weeks to getting infected by another virus that may be life-altering, life-threating and may last for a prolonged period of time.
The virus spreads by coming in contact with the blood, semen or body fluid of any person who is infected.
Just like Hepatitis B, this virus also has two different forms with completely different consequences from the other. These are:
Acute Hepatitis C: This virus doesn’t last long. A person who gets infected with this type usually gets better once they virus goes away. Mainly the virus doesn’t last that long either.
Chronic Hepatitis C: This type is more contagious. It can last long and lead to severe liver ailments like long term damage, liver failure, cirrhosis, and even liver cancer.
Hepatitis C is as harmful as B but people who have it can still lead a full, healthy and active life. It’s all about managing the disease in the proper way and taking care of oneself.
How Does Hepatitis C Affect the Body?
Primarily, the virus infects the liver. In many cases, the virus goes away by itself and doesn’t do much harm, but in those cases where the virus lasts longer, it can have severe consequences on the liver. It can lead to liver failure, cause liver cancer or cirrhosis. In other cases, the liver can be seriously and severely damaged.
How Does it Get Transmitted in the Body?
The virus is caused by Hepatitis C Virus, yet there are many ways in which you may be infected with it. The most common cause is getting in contact with an infected person’s blood. Others may include:
- Sharing personal use items like a toothbrush or razors of an infected person. Other personal items that may have come in contact with the blood of the infected person can cause the virus as well.
- Using a needle or syringe of a person containing Hepatitis C Virus. This happens in the cause of drug addicts for the most part. They use the needle or syringe of an infected person to inject drugs into their body. In doing so, they also inject the virus into their own blood stream.
- Having tools used on your body that haven’t been sterilised and were used earlier on an infected person. This happens mostly in the case of having your ears pierced or getting a tattoo. T
- Transfusing blood that hasn’t been screened can also cause the virus.
In the case of Hepatitis B, the chances of getting the virus through sexual intercourse are higher. However, the same is not the case in C. The risk factor is lower; however, a person can still get the virus through sex. This may be possible in the following examples:
- Having sex with more than one person.
- Engaging in rough sex that can cause bleeding.
- If you already have HIV, chances are you can get Hepatitis C too.
Although the cases are very rare in which a healthcare expert is exposed to infected blood, it does happen. The chances of a mother transmitting the virus to the baby during birth are also low.
Hepatitis C cannot be caused by hugging, kissing, sharing drinks or food, coughing or sneezing.
Symptoms of Hepatitis C
There are no symptoms of the virus at the early stage. However, if the virus develops, the following symptoms may be experienced:
- Abdominal pain
- Weakness or fatigue
- Muscle pain
- Dark urine
- Rash and itchy skin
- Jaundice (In most cases when all other symptoms start to go away, jaundice appears).
In many cases, people go on to develop the chronic type and they still don’t experience any symptoms. Only when it’s detected do they know they have a virus developing in them.
Diagnosis of Hepatitis C
Many times, people who are infected with the virus find out accidentally. They have no clue a vicious virus like such has been developing within their bodies.
The diagnosis can be done through a blood test. Doctors, through the test, can find out if you’ve had the virus at some point in your life. A second test will help identity if you still have it and need treatment.
After the virus has been detected, the doctors may further require a liver biopsy to find out how well your liver is working. The doctor, with help of a needle, collects your liver tissue for further examination. Further tests are also conducted to ensure you don’t have liver cancer.
How can Hepatitis C be prevented?
There are many ways to prevent the disease. Though there is no vaccine yet, you can still prevent getting infected.
Many medical experts have given specific guidelines for the prevention of the virus. You need to go through them and follow them accurately. Wear protection gear and dispose anything you may feel has residue of the infection.
- Sterilising every object, tool or instrument that may have come in contact with an infected person before you use it.
- Do not share personal items or reuse equipment like needles or syringes of a person who may have the virus. In fact, for safety reasons, it is highly recommended you always use new needles and syringes.
- Those who may have the virus should keep their cuts and blisters covered at all times so that others may not have contact with your blood.
Cure for Hepatitis C
Through there is no vaccination for the virus, doctors are still amazed that in many cases, Hepatitis C goes away on its own. The medication has been developed enough to cure the disease.
However, medical experts are of the opinion that a liver transplant, in case you need it, may not solve the issue. The virus can return after some time.
Most of the people who have the virus are not even aware of it. Nearly 150 million people worldwide are living with the chronic form of the disease residing in their bodies.
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