Hepatitis C: All you need to know about it!
Updated: Jan 11, 2022
What are the symptoms of hepatitis C?
Approximately 20%–30% of those newly infected with HCV experience fatigue, abdominal pain, poor appetite, or jaundice.
The majority of people with chronic hepatitis C have no symptoms of liver disease. People with chronic hepatitis C may complain of abdominal pain, fatigue, itching or nausea.
Once the patient develops cirrhosis symptoms may be more prominent. These include jaundice, muscle weakness, nausea, weight loss, abdominal swelling, vomiting blood, blood in stool, and confusion.
Who can get hepatitis C infection?
Hepatitis C is spread mainly by contact with blood and blood products.
The use of injection illicit drugs is a common mode of disease transmission.
People who received blood transfusions, transfusion of blood products or organ donations prior to 1992, when sensitive tests for HCV were introduced for blood screening, are at risk for hepatitis C infection.
Other persons at risk for hepatitis C include long-term kidney dialysis patients, people with tattoos and body piercing other than pierced ears, health care workers after exposures (i.e., needle stick or splashes to the eye) from the blood of an infected person, infants born to HCV-infected mothers, people with high-risk sexual behavior, multiple partners and sexually transmitted diseases and people who have shared toothbrushes, razors and other personal items with a family member who is HCV-infected.
Can hepatitis C be sexually transmitted?
HCV can be spread by sex, but this is rare, accounting for less than 1% of overall cases.
Sexual transmission is more common in men having sex with men. If you are having sex with more than one steady sex partner, use latex condoms correctly and every time to prevent the spread of sexually transmitted diseases.
How many patients with hepatitis C develop cirrhosis?
Nearly 20% of patients with chronic hepatitis C will develop cirrhosis over a period of decades.
Factors which influence progression to cirrhosis include co-infection with hepatitis B, alcohol use and obesity.
Can patients with hepatitis C drink alcohol?
Regular alcohol intake has been shown to lead to increased liver damage in patients who have hepatitis C.
HCV-positive persons are therefore advised to avoid alcohol
Is there a vaccine for Hepatitis C?
No presently there is no vaccine for hepatitis C
What are the tests needed to diagnose Hepatitis C?
Screening tests for diagnosis is hepatitis C antibody (anti-HCV)
Further tests are required for confirmation and before starting treatment
What is the treatment for Hepatitis C?
Treatment for hepatitis C is successful in eradicating the virus with minimal side effects. Early detection and treatment avoids the complications of advanced liver disease