Hepatitis C- Symptoms, Causes and Treatment

Hepatitis C is a viral infection which attacks the liver. It causes liver inflammation which leads to serious liver damage in some cases. The hepatitis C virus (HCV) spreads through contaminated blood. It is a contagious disease which is sexually transmitted as well. Long term or chronic hepatitis C stays silent for many years.

Symptoms

The Hepatitis C disease does not show symptoms for a long period of time until it damages the liver. Hence, many people having this disease do not get aware of the symptoms until long. Some of the signs and symptoms of chronic hepatitis C are mentioned below.

  • Fatigue
  • Jaundice (Causing yellow eyes, pale skin and dark urine)
  • Loss of appetite
  • Bruising easily
  • Bleeding easily
  • Weight loss
  • Itchy skin
  • Nausea, confusion, slurred speech (Hepatic encephalopathy)
  • Inflammation in legs
  • Spider-like blood vessels on skin surface (Spider angiomas)
  • Build-up of fluid in abdomen (Ascites)

 

Chronic hepatitis C starts at the acute stage which goes undiagnosed since it rarely causes any symptoms. Acute symptoms usually appear 1-3 months after exposure to hepatitis C virus and during last 2 weeks to 3 months.

Acute hepatitis C does not always reach the chronic and some people get cured of the infection after acute phase. This is an outcome known as spontaneous viral clearance. Studies show that the rate of spontaneous viral clearance varies from 14-50 percent in people diagnosed with acute HCV. Acute hepatitis C is known to respond well to antiviral therapy.

Causes

Hepatitis C is caused by hepatitis C virus and it causes infection when contaminated blood with the virus enters the bloodstream of an uninfected person. The disease is known to exist in various forms known as genotypes. The most common type of hepatitis C found in North America and Europe is type 1 while type 2 is also found in these countries but it is less common. Both of these types have spread across the world while other genotypes are responsible for a majority of infections in the Middle East, Asia and Africa.

Treatment

Hep C Treatment has changed drastically over the years. In August of 2017, the FDA approved a combination pill of glecaprevir and pibrentasvir which is called Mavyret. The medication allows for a shorter treatment cycle for adult patients across all genotypes which is usually 8 weeks, but who don’t have cirrhosis and who have not received previous treatment. The treatment period tends to be longer for patients in different stages of hepatitis C. Prescribed dosage for the medicine is 3 tablets daily.

There are other options for medication which are also taken once a day such as the combination of elbasvir and grazoprevir called Zepatier. It has the ability to cure the disease with a striking success rate of 97% of patients treated with the medication.

Since prevention is better than cure, it is prudent to be cautious about body piercing and tattoos. Also, practice safe sex with a single partner who is not infected with HCV virus.