Hepatitis C is a
disease that causes inflammation and infection of the liver. This condition
develops after being infected with the hepatitis C virus (HCV). Hepatitis C can
be either acute or chronic.
The symptoms of acute
hepatitis C set in quickly and last a few weeks, whereas chronic hepatitis C symptoms develop
over a period of months and may not be apparent at first. The World Health
Organization (WHO) states that over 130-150 million people have chronic
Unlike hepatitis A and B, there’s no vaccine for hepatitis C,
although efforts to create one continue. Hepatitis C is highly contagious,
which explains the high number of people with the disease. The disease is found
worldwide. Egypt has the highest percentage of chronic hepatitis C cases.
What Are the Symptoms of Hepatitis C?
for Disease Control and Prevention state that 80 percent of people with
hepatitis C don’t have symptoms. While this is true, some people complain of
mild to severe symptoms, such as:
- a fever
- dark urine
- a loss of appetite
- abdominal pain or discomfort
- joint pain
The symptoms may not show up right away and can take between six
to seven weeks to appear.
How Is Hepatitis C Transmitted?
Hepatitis C is transmitted through blood contaminated with HCV. It
can be spread through:
- organ transplants
- blood transfusions
- sharing personal items, such as razors or
- touching contaminated blood
- sharing drug needles
- giving birth (from a mother to their baby)
Some forms of hepatitis are spread sexually, but hepatitis C is
less likely to be spread through sexual means than through other means.
People who have a high risk of developing hepatitis C include
those who have:
- had a blood transfusion before 1992
- received an organ transplant
- received clotting factor concentrates or other
blood products before 1987
- received hemodialysis treatment for a long
- been born to a mother with hepatitis
- have a sexual partner who’s infected with
- used drug needles contaminated with infected
- used needles contaminated with infected blood
for tattoos or piercings
- injected illegal drugs
How Is Hepatitis C Diagnosed?
Based on the symptoms alone, your doctor may not have enough
evidence to diagnose you with hepatitis C. It’s important to let your doctor
know if you’ve been exposed to hepatitis C.
If your doctor suspects you have the condition, they may order a
series of blood tests to check for signs of HCV. Blood tests can also measure
the amount of HCV in your blood. If you’re infected, a genotyping test can be used to see which treatment will work best for
If your doctor thinks you have liver damage, they’ll then
prescribe a liver function test to
check your urine and blood for signs of heightened enzymes from your
Another test to check for liver damage is a liver biopsy. Your doctor
will take a small piece of tissue from your liver and test it for cell
How Is Hepatitis C Treated?
Not everyone infected with hepatitis C will need treatment as
some people’s immune systems may be able to overcome the infection on their
own. There are several options for treating hepatitis C. Treatment is usually
reserved for those with serious liver damage and scarring, and no other
conditions that prevent treatment.
Past hepatitis C treatment regimens required weekly injections for
48 weeks, which carried the risk of significant and sometimes life-threatening
side effects. Newly developed antiviral medications now have higher cure rates
and fewer adverse side effects. They also require a shorter treatment period. Your
doctor may decide if antiviral treatment is likely to provide more benefit than
harm. Your doctor will likely recommend bed rest to help your body save energy
to fight off the disease.
Your doctor may also create a nutrition plan to keep you from
malnourishment or dehydration. According to the Mayo
Clinic, some people with hepatitis C don’t need treatment because they have
only minor liver abnormalities. If that’s the case, your doctor will probably
want to monitor your liver function with regular blood tests.
What Are the Complications Associated with Hepatitis C?
Complications from hepatitis C include liver scarring, cirrhosis,
and liver cancer.
Some people with hepatitis C may need a liver transplant.
The sooner hepatitis C is diagnosed and treated, the better the
chances are of getting rid of it. Complications usually arise from chronic
How Is Hepatitis C Prevented?
Hepatitis C is carried through the blood. You can prevent
contracting it by making sure you wash
your hands after coming into contact with surfaces or shaking hands with people,
avoiding the use of illegal drugs, and avoiding sharing needles with anyone.
It’s also good practice for you and your sexual partner to get tested
for hepatitis C.