Hepatitis C is a viral bloodborne infection caused by the hepatitis C virus (HCV). If left untreated, it leads to swelling (inflammation) of the liver, thus causing serious damage to the organ. It is a type of viral hepatitis that spreads through contaminated blood.
Nowadays, with the availability of modern treatments, it is possible to cure the HCV infection and many individuals can have a normal life expectancy. It is one of five known hepatitis viruses: A, B, C, D, and E.
The hepatitis C incubation period varies from 2 weeks to 6 months. At the beginning of the infection, the majority of patients do not show any HCV symptoms.
The hepatitis C symptoms are
An acute hepatitis C infection always doesn't turn chronic. Few patients get rid of the hepatitis C virus from their bodies after the acute phase, it is known as spontaneous viral clearance. This virus also responds well to antiviral therapy.
Prolonged infection with the hepatitis C virus is called chronic hepatitis C. The chronic hepatitis C infection is mainly a "silent" infection, going unnoticed for many years. The disease is detected when the virus results in liver damage, exhibiting the signs and symptoms of liver disease.
When To See a Doctor?
If you experience hepatitis C symptoms, it is advisable to consult your doctor. If your blood test report is positive for hepatitis C, your doctor may refer you to an infectious disease specialist for further treatment.
Hepatitis C is caused by the hepatitis C virus.
Hepatitis C transmission occurs through contact with an infected person’s blood. It can occur due to the following reasons
- Using unsterilised needles and syringes; infusion bags, and improperly sterilized surgical equipment or other drug materials infected with the HCV virus.
- Blood transfusion with contaminated blood
- If a person gets an accidental prick with an infected needle
- Being tattooed or pierced with unsterilised inks or tools that were used on a hepatitis C person
- Getting in contact with the blood or open wounds of an infected individual
- Using a hepatitis C-infected razor, toothbrush, nail clippers, or manicuring or pedicuring equipment
- The HCV is passed on from the mother to the unborn child
- Through unprotected sex with a person having an HCV infection
Hepatitis C complications include
- Liver cirrhosis
- Liver cancer
- Liver failure
- Be cautious while undergoing body piercing and tattooing. Prefer a reputable shop and enquire whether the equipment is properly cleaned
- Avoid unprotected sex
- Avoid using illicit drugs
- Do not use infected needles, syringes, razors, toothbrushes, manicuring or pedicuring equipment. Etc
- Stay away from alcohol consumption and smoking
- There is no hepatitis C vaccine. It is possible to prevent the disease by taking precautions not to get infected with the virus and doing regular blood tests to detect and treat the illness in time
Diagnosis of Hepatitis C
A blood test, called an ELISA test and anti-HCV test, is used to detect the hepatitis C virus.
HCV test results are available from a few days to a few weeks. Rapid anti-HCV tests are also available, which can give results in 20–30 minutes.
Patients with hepatitis C virus infection will be referred to a liver specialist to get the condition of their liver examined. The specialist may recommend a liver biopsy or an ultrasound test.
Treatment for Hepatitis C
Hepatitis C treatment is done with antiviral medicines. In the majority of cases, they are able to cure the condition.
In acute hepatitis C patients, the doctor may monitor the disease to see if it becomes chronic before starting the treatment.
After a few months, the patient may have to undergo another blood test to see if the body has recovered from the virus.
If the HCV infection stays for several months, it is known as chronic hepatitis C. Treatment will be required in this condition.
Patients with chronic hepatitis C virus infection (infection lasting more than 6 months) need to undergo the following treatment. It includes:
- Hepatitis C medications
- Liver function tests to assess liver damage
- Change in lifestyle habits to prevent further liver damage
Hepatitis C Dos and Don’ts
Follow the Do’s and Don’ts to prevent the HCV disease or to stop it from aggravating. Hepatitis C is a chronic blood-borne viral infectious disease that is caused by the hepatitis C virus and precautions can help to stay away from this disease.
|Use sterilised needles for injections||Consume alcohol|
|Avoid unprotected sex; use a condom||smoke|
|Avoid using illicit drugs||Gain weight|
|Get vaccinated for hepatitis A and B||Share personal items of an infected person e.g. toothbrushes, razors, etc|
|Eat a healthy diet||Eat processed and junk foods|
The HCV symptoms are fatigue, abdominal pain, fever, joint pain, loss of appetite, etc. Its treatment includes antiviral medications and also liver biopsy or ultrasound test to check for liver damage in the case of chronic hepatitis C infection.
Hepatitis C Care at Medicover Hospitals
At Medicover hospitals, we have the most experienced and trusted medical team, comprising of general physicians, infectious disease specialists, hepatologists, and gastroenterologists who provide the best management for hepatitis C infection. We are dedicated to providing excellent healthcare services to our patients in a holistic manner. Our team adopts a multidimensional approach to managing hepatitis C infection and its related complications with utmost care and active participation of healthcare experts from different specialities. We ensure world-class healthcare facilities at affordable costs in all our departments to ensure high-quality treatment outcomes and satisfactory experiences.