What is Hepatitis C?
Hepatitis C is the inflammation of the liver, and it can be fatal. Hepatitis C is caused by the Hepatitis C virus. It happens when contaminated blood is injected into the bloodstream of a healthy or uncontaminated person. During the early stages of hepatitis C, it is difficult to diagnose it. That is the reason, most people are unaware of the fact that they are having the disease.
Hepatitis C is a viral infection that causes inflammation and serious damage to the liver. Other things like infection, toxins, or some sort of medications can also cause the symptoms of Hepatitis C. Among all the hepatitis viruses, the Hepatitis C virus is considered very serious and lethal.
Different Types of Hepatitis C
Two main types of Hepatitis C are:
- Chronic Hepatitis
- Acute Hepatitis
The longevity of the symptoms decides which type of hepatitis a person has. People having Acute Hepatitis C show few symptoms. These symptoms usually last for less than 6 months.
However, in the case of Chronic Hepatitis, it is very difficult for a person’s body to get full recovery as it is hard to get rid of the virus. It is still under investigation that why some people develop a chronic form of Hepatitis C.
What are the Early Symptoms of Hepatitis C?
People having Acute Hepatitis usually do not experience any symptoms. In some cases, people experience few symptoms such as mild fever, tiredness, and loss of appetite. Other symptoms that will appear just after infection include:
- Muscular pain
- Irregular bowel movements
- Joint pain
- Itchy skin
- Swelling of legs
- Weight loss
- Web-like blood vessels on the skin
- Yellowing of eyes or sometimes skin
Usually, it takes 6 to 7 Weeks for the Hepatitis C virus to show its symptoms.
What are the Delayed Symptoms of Hepatitis C?
Most people develop Hepatitis C symptoms within 2 to 3 weeks of infection. Some take a long time before experiencing any symptoms of Hepatitis C. Hepatitis C virus usually takes few months to years to completely damage the liver. That is the reason, it sometimes takes up to 10 years before a person is aware of any symptoms.
How long can you have Hepatitis C without knowing?
Acute hepatitis C is the first stage of any chronic hepatitis C infection. Acute hepatitis C generally does not get diagnosed, as it seldom causes any symptoms in individuals. Few symptoms such as jaundice, fatigue, nausea, and muscle pain are observable in individuals having hepatitis C.
How Hepatitis C is Diagnosed and Treated?
Based on someone’s symptoms, a simple blood test can confirm either you have contracted with Hepatitis C virus or not. A test will determine the quantity of hepatitis c virus in your blood which is called viral load and identify the genotype of the virus.
After getting the blood test reports, you may go through a biopsy to check if you have undergone liver damage or not. In the case of chronic Hepatitis C, your doctor will perform few tests to assess the level of liver damage. These tests include:
- MRE (Magnetic Resonance Elastography)
- Transient Elastography
- Liver Biopsy
Based on the type of infection, your doctor will suggest you the best course of treatment. A person having any symptoms of Hepatitis C should consult a doctor or a liver specialist who will perform various tests to confirm the disease, monitor the symptoms, and suggest a precise treatment.
What is the Main Cause of Hepatitis C?
There are many reasons by which you can be exposed to the virus such as:
- Sharing the needles or injection of other people
- Having several sex partners
- Repeatedly using the infected needles
- Hepatitis C virus can be transmitted from mother to child by birth or by breastfeeding
- Sharing personal care items such as razors and toothbrushes
- Piercing of body parts with unhygienic equipment
- Sharing food with a contaminated person
What are the Preventive Measures for Hepatitis C?
Previously, there was no medication for Hepatitis C. Nowadays, Hepatitis C can be treated by taking oral medications and injections. Nowadays, the Hepatitis C virus is curable by taking oral medications regularly for 3 to 6 months. It is quite difficult to diagnose the early symptoms of Hepatitis C infection. By taking simple preventive measures you can protect yourself from developing the condition of Hepatitis C.
If you have developed the symptoms of the Hepatitis C virus, then your doctor is likely to recommend you certain home remedies or bring immediate lifestyle changes.
- Alcohol speeds up the progression of liver disease. So it is highly advisable to stop drinking alcohol.
- Avoid any medications that may cause damage to your liver and review your medications with the help of your doctor.
- If you have developed any symptoms of disease, you must prevent the others from coming in contact with this contaminated blood. For that, you need to cover your wounds.
Early preventive measures can help you avoid chronic symptoms of Hepatitis C and liver damage.
Are there any Side Effects of Hepatitis C Medication?
Usually, the most common side effects of Hepatitis C medication depend upon the type of medicine. These side effects include:
- Chest pain
- Shortness of breath
- Pain in back and joints
- Flu-like symptoms
- Gastrointestinal problems
- Hair loss
- Trouble thinking and focusing
Keep one thing in mind that the symptoms will go away once you are cured and get rid of the Hepatitis C virus. Co-operate with your doctor. Explain your body conditions or any side effects to help him manage your problems and get rid of the virus as soon as possible.