Hepatitis infections are of multiple types; today, we will be spending some time gather some basic knowledge about Hepatitis C. A hepatitis C infection is caused by the virus of the same name. The infection has the ability to affect a person’s liver. Since the liver is a strong self-healing organ most of the time, it gets difficult to detect liver problems in early stages. This works in the favor of this infection and can even lead to graver conditions like fibrosis, cirrhosis, or cancer of the liver. So, here are some things about Hepatitis C everyone should be aware of
Taking timely notice of symptoms, in this case, is not easy due to multiple factors. The incubation period associated with the Hepatitis C Virus is a minimum of two weeks, lasting up to as long as six months. In addition, almost 80% of patients in the initial stages of the infection are asymptomatic. However, when looking for signs of having contracted the virus, here are a few symptoms to take notice of:
- Sore muscles
- Nausea and vomiting
- Lack or loss of appetite
- Abdominal ache
- Joint pain
- Grey stools
- Dark urine
- Jaundice-like yellowing of skin and eyes
These symptoms can be uncommonly accompanied by weight loss, anemia, disorientation, sometimes accompanied by bladder and bowel related issues. But the asymptomatic nature of the infection means most cases are detected only after advancing to the chronic more severe stages.
There are multiple causes for the occurrence of the Hepatitis C virus. The primary mode of transmission, however, remains through the blood. Other common reasons for contracting this infection include
- Sharing of infected needles
- Sharing razors with a carrier
- Use of unsterilized equipment by medical facilities
- In rare cases, the virus can be transmitted from a mother to her child
The diagnostic procedure of Hepatitis C infection is a two-step process. The first step involves a blood test. The blood test is meant to screen for the presence of anti-Hepatitis C virus antibodies. If the tests turn out to be positive, it is an indication that the person has been infected with the virus. This is then followed by the second step, which is the nucleic acid test. The nucleic acid test is meant to detect the presence of HCV RNA which is used as an indication and confirmation of chronic infection.
If the second blood test results come back positive, the doctor can advise the patient to undergo some other diagnostic procedures. These procedures include a CT Scan, MRI, or a USG, which are useful to rule out the possibility of liver cancer.
HCV diagnosis involves additional tests that help the doctor determine the virus strain’s genotype. These tests are important as they are helpful in deciding the treatment plan.
In rare instances when Hepatitis C infection is diagnosed at the acute stage the treatment usually involves the administration of antiviral medications. There are also instances when the body’s immune system effectively fights out the infection without the aid of medications. Chronic cases of infections are treated on the basis of the medical professional’s assessment of the liver’s condition.
Vaccinations are available to protect us from a string of viral and bacterial infections. There are some infections, like Hepatitis C, that have no vaccinations. In fact, one of the most frequent queries people make about Hepatitis C is whether the infection is preventable. This, in combination with the asymptomatic manifestation of the infection, makes Hepatitis C more dangerous.
The only absolute way to protect oneself against contracting this disease is prevention. The prevention of its spread involves some basic care measures including avoidance of sharing of equipment, safe handling, screening of blood in blood banks and hospitals, safe disposal of medical equipment, and other sharp tools like needles and razors.