Hepatitis C – Symptoms, Causes, and Treatments

Hepatitis C is a viral disease that typically causes inflammation of the liver, and at times completely damages the organ as well. The virus of hepatitis C usually spreads through contaminated blood and is one of the hardest of its class to treat.

Unlike its cousins, hepatitis C is most likely to become an ongoing and chronic disease, causing unexpected conditions to develop and persist. As per a report published by one of the leading medical associations of the world, hepatitis C virus stands among the most common blood-borne viral infections across the globe. Nearly 5 million people are diagnosed with his chronic condition every year and about a quarter of them lose their lives to hepatitis C as well.  

Until recently, a person with hepatitis C required weekly injections and oral medications to keep the virus in check. However, the treatment was not so effective as it infringed with a person’s existing health condition and showcased unacceptable side effects. Today, scientists and physicians have developed effective medications which can cure hepatitis C condition in a matter of weeks.

A bigger matter of concern here is that half of the people are still unaware about the implications and complications of hepatitis C. Most of them are even unable to detect that they have been infected with the virus of hepatitis C, mainly because they do not experience symptoms. For this reason, physicians recommend that individuals must get tested against the hepatitis C virus at least once a year.

Signs and Symptoms of Hepatitis C

Studies prove that hepatitis C does not showcase any signs of its existence, especially at its early stage. It is only after a matter of months or years that the condition becomes prominent. Chronic hepatitis C – a long-term infection with hepatitis C virus is usually a “silent” infection until it starts damaging the liver. Some prominent signs and symptoms of Hepatitis C are as follows:

  • Fatigue
  • Bleeding easily
  • Poor appetite
  • Itchy skin
  • Bruising easily
  • Fluid buildup in your abdomen (ascites)
  • Dark-colored urine
  • Yellow discoloration of the skin and eyes (jaundice)
  • Confusion, drowsiness and slurred speech (hepatic encephalopathy)
  • Swelling in your legs
  • Weight loss
  • Spider-like blood vessels on your skin

Causes of Hepatitis C

As the name suggests, the infection of hepatitis C is caused by the hepatitis C virus. It typically spreads when contaminated blood enters the bloodstream of a healthy individual.

Physicians state that the virus of hepatitis C exists in a variety of distinct forms, called the genotypes.

Genotype 1 and 2 is most commonly found in regions of North America and Europe, which have now spread through other continents as well. Other known genotypes showcase their prominence in the Middle East, Africa, and Asia.

Though the infection of hepatitis C follows a similar course of growth and destruction regardless of its genotype, treatment against the condition still depends upon the viral genotype.

Hepatitis C Complications

Hepatitis C infection, typically chronic hepatitis C causes significant complications. Some of these are as follows:

  • Liver Scarring or Cirrhosis – This complication typically surfaces after 20 to 30 years of the infection existence in the body.
  • Liver cancer – About 10% of people with hepatitis C are at the risk of developing liver cancer.
  • Liver failure – An advanced stage of cirrhosis is known to completely damage the liver and stop its functionality.

Hepatitis C Treatment

  1. Antiviral medications

Today, the infection of hepatitis C is typically treated with antiviral medications, which aim to wipe clean the virus from the body. The main objective of the treatment is to completely eliminate the problem from its roots.

Many recent and significant advancements in the field of medical science have revealed a classic, new-age treatment for hepatitis C – the direct acting anti-viral medications. These medications have showcased better results with fewer side effects and shorter treatment time. Here, the length of treatment and choice of medications depends upon the genotype of hepatitis C, any existing liver condition, other medical problems, and prior treatments.

  1. Liver transplantation

In case an individual has developed serious hepatitis C complications, liver transplantation usually becomes the go-to option.

During the liver transplantation process, a surgeon carefully removes the damaged liver from the body and replaced it with a healthy one. Most of these transplanted livers generally come from deceased donors and a small number from living donors who agree to donate a part of their liver.

In the majority of cases, liver transplantation alone does not cure the problem. It is supported with over-the-counter medications and proper check-ups completely eliminate the condition and even prevent it from returning.

Lifestyle and Home remedies to Prevent Hepatitis C

If you’ve been diagnosed with hepatitis C, your physician is most likely to recommend you to bring about certain changes in your lifestyle and eating habits. These small yet effective measures can significantly aid in keeping you healthy and protected against chronic viral infections including hepatitis C.

  1. Consume alcohol in moderate quantities only. This because too much alcohol content can cause liver malfunctioning and failure.
  2. Avoid taking medications which can cause damage to your liver. Consult your physician before taking such medications and make sure they do not harm your body in any form. If possible, look for alternate medications which do not and cannot affect the health of the liver.
  3. Enlighten people around you about this chronic condition and its ill-effects.
  • Help them from coming in contact with infected blood.
  • Make sure to cover any wounds.
  • Avoid sharing razors or toothbrushes.
  • Do not donate blood, semen or body organs if you’re an infected person.
  • Inform your physician about your infection and seek assistance on precautionary measures you must take before having sex.