Hepatitis C may be a virus infection that causes liver inflammation, sometimes resulting in serious liver damage. The hepatitis C virus (HCV) spreads through contaminated blood.
Until recently, hepatitis C treatment required weekly injections and oral medications that a lot of HCV-infected people couldn't take due to other health problems or unacceptable side effects.
That's changing. Today, chronic HCV is typically curable with oral medications taken a day for 2 to 6 months.
Still, about half people with HCV do not know they're infected, mainly because they need no symptoms, which may take decades to seem. For that reason, Preventive Services Task Force recommends that each one adults ages 18 to 79 years be screened for hepatitis C, even those without symptoms or known disease. The largest group in danger includes everyone born between 1945 and 1965 — a population five times more likely to be infected than those born in other years.
Long-term infection with the hepatitis C virus is understood as chronic hepatitis C. Chronic hepatitis C is typically a "silent" infection for several years, until the virus damages the liver enough to cause the signs and symptoms of disease.
Signs and symptoms include:
· Bleeding easily
· Bruising easily
· Poor appetite
· Yellow discoloration of the skin and eyes (jaundice)
· Dark-colored urine
· Itchy skin
· Fluid buildup in your abdomen (ascites)
· Swelling in your legs
· Weight loss
· Confusion, drowsiness and slurred speech (hepatic encephalopathy)
· Spiderlike blood vessels on your skin (spider angiomas)
Every chronic hepatitis C infection starts with an acute phase. Acute hepatitis C usually goes undiagnosed because it rarely causes symptoms. When signs and symptoms are present, they'll include jaundice, along side fatigue, nausea, fever and muscle aches. Acute symptoms appear one to three months after exposure to the virus and last two weeks to three months.
Acute hepatitis C infection doesn't always become chronic. Some people clear HCV from their bodies after the acute phase, an outcome referred to as spontaneous viral clearance. In studies of individuals diagnosed with acute HCV, rates of spontaneous viral clearance have varied from 15% to 25%. Acute hepatitis C also responds well to antiviral therapy.
Hepatitis C infection is caused by the hepatitis C virus (HCV). The infection spreads when blood contaminated with the virus enters the bloodstream of an uninfected person.
Although chronic hepatitis C follows an identical course no matter the genotype of the infecting virus, treatment recommendations vary counting on viral genotype.
Your risk of hepatitis C infection is increased if you:
· Have ever injected or inhaled illicit drugs
· Have HIV
· Received a piercing or tattoo in an unclean environment using unsterile equipment
· Received a blood transfusion or organ transplant before 1992
· Received clotting factor concentrates before 1987
· Received hemodialysis treatments for a long period of time
· Were born to a woman with a hepatitis C infection
· Were ever in prison
Hepatitis C infection that continues over a few years can cause significant complications, such as:
· Scarring of the liver (cirrhosis). After decades of hepatitis C infection, cirrhosis may occur. Scarring in your liver makes it difficult for your liver to function.
· Liver cancer. A small number of individuals with hepatitis C infection may develop cancer of the liver .
· Liver failure. Advanced cirrhosis may cause your liver to prevent functioning.
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