What is Hepatitis C?

Hepatitis is a viral infection of the liver caused by the hepatitis C virus. The infection of the liver causes inflammation and eventually scarring when treatments are not instituted early.

Hepatitis C is spread primarily through blood contact with an infected individual or by blood products during transfusions. About 170 million people worldwide are infected with hepatitis C. Up to 80% of individuals recovers from the infection and gets cured. The remaining 20% leads to cirrhosis and may require liver transplant. In fact, most cases of liver transplant in the world occur because of hepatitis C infection. Other forms of hepatitis may have vaccines against it, however, not in the case of hepatitis C, which does not have vaccines yet at the present.

Transmission of Hepatitis C

Hepatitis C can be spread via the following mechanisms:

  • Sexual intercourse
  • Sharing if needles
  • Having tattoo or piercing
  • Sharing of razors and toothbrushes with infected individuals
  • Placental transmission from the mother to the baby
  • Blood transfusions of infected blood
  • Needle-stick injuries from an infected needle

Hepatitis C Symptoms

The symptoms of hepatitis C is synonymous to the symptoms of all viral hepatitis infection, which include:

  • Jaundice
  • Lethargy, irritability, fatigue, weakness
  • Myalgia and arthralgia
  • Anorexia
  • Nausea and Vomiting
  • Right upper quadrant abdominal pain
  • Diarrhoea
  • Fever
  • Flu-like symptoms
  • Pruritus
  • Dark urine
  • Clay colored stools
  • Bleeding tendencies
  • Anemia
  • Hepatic encephalopathy
  • Asterixis or the rapid flexion and extension of the fingers

Hep C usually results in liver cirrhosis when managements are not instituted early. In order for early management, early detection is essential from the moment signs and symptoms appear.

Hepatitis C testing

Hepatitis tests involve blood tests including HCV antibody enzyme immunoassay, RNA polymerase chain reaction test or recombinant immunoblot assay. The tests for hep C are more reliable when checked one to two weeks after the exposure because antibodies usually form during these stages of the disease.

The drugs pegylated interferon alpha and ribavirin are used to treat hepatitis C.

Please contact Better2Know on the number listed above if you’re worried about Hepatitis C or to book your confidential appointment at one of our STD clinics throughout the UK and Ireland.

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