HCV

HCV is the short form of hepatitis C virus. It is a virus that causes viral hepatitis. Hepatitis C virus can cause inflammation in the liver. Hepatitis C is a highly contagious disease, which means it transmits from one person to another. It can occur due to the exposure to infected blood. Generally, it gets transmitted due to the use of shared and contaminated needles. There are a few symptoms of hepatitis C. Your liver gets inflamed or infected once your body catches hepatitis C virus. This condition can be chronic or acute. There is a vaccine for hepatitis A and hepatitis B but there is no vaccine for hepatitis C.

Symptoms of HCV

There are a few symptoms of hepatitis C. It is not necessary that if a person is suffering from hepatitis C then he or she would experience the symptoms. As per the research, around 75% people do not experience any symptoms when they catch HCV infection. But there are 25% of people who may experience the various symptoms:

- People may feel fatigue

- Loss of appetite, fever, and muscle aches are some of the common symptoms or signs of hepatitis C.

- Stools of clay colour, yellow eyes, or dark urine are some of the symptoms that are experienced by a few people in early or acute infection.

- Due to chronic HCV infection, people may get inflammation in the liver which tells that maybe it is HCV infection.

- Affected people generally feel tired or complain of symptoms that are nonspecific.

- Hepatitis can lead to cirrhosis, a condition of chronic liver damage. In such a situation, a person may experience various symptoms including abdominal pain, weight loss, gynecomastia, abdominal fluid, and more.

Causes of HCV

The cause of hepatitis C is the HCV virus. Due to blood-to-blood contact, this virus can transmit to other people. This virus is not transmitted because of casual contact, sharing food, mosquito bites or kissing. Check out various factors that can lead to hepatitis C:

- If you have a history of drinking alcohol daily then it can lead to hepatitis C.

- If you are born to a mother who already has HCV infection then you have greater chances of suffering from hepatitis C.

- Risky sexual behaviour including having unprotected sex with an intravenous drug user may lead to hepatitis C.

- Getting a tattoo on your body in an unregulated setting may lead to hepatitis C.

- An exposure to an infected needle stick increases the risk of HCV exposure. People who work in healthcare are at more risk.

- Using pre-used injectable drugs can lead to hepatitis C.

- An unexplained liver disease increases the risk of HCV exposure.

- Snorting drugs, haemophilia, long-term hemodialysis, and being incarcerated are some of the other possible causes of hepatitis C.

How is it diagnosed?

There is a possibility that you are suffering from hepatitis C but do not experience any symptoms. Your doctor may ask you to get the blood test done for the diagnosis. By the blood test, he or she will get to know about the level of certain enzymes in the liver. If it is found that the level of certain enzymes in the liver is high then your doctor may ask you to get other tests done in order to confirm the problem.

- Antibody test: In the antibody test, a blood test is conducted to check for the presence of infection for the hepatitis C antibody. If your body is infected with the virus then it will make the hepatitis C antibody. Your doctor may take the sample of your blood and send it to a laboratory for testing purpose. Your doctor may also conduct a quick test known as OraQuick. With the help of this test, you can get the result in around 20 minutes. If your test shows that no antibody is present then it means that you are not a patient of hepatitis C. But if you have been exposed to the virus in the past 6 months then you will have to get your tests done again for sure. Though, the antibody test is not effective. This test can show that you are suffering from hepatitis C even if you are not. It can also show the positive result if you had hepatitis C infection in the past but now it is not there.

- PCR test: If antibody test shows a positive result then your doctor may recommend you to go for a PCR test. This test helps to look for hepatitis C virus genetic material residing in your body. If the result is negative then it is possible that you had hepatitis C in the past but now it is not there. Sometimes, your doctor may conduct this test again in order to be sure. If the antibody test and PCR test, both tests show that you have hepatitis C infection then it means that you are suffering from hepatitis C and you need immediate treatment for it.

- Liver biopsy: Once the doctor has diagnosed hepatitis C, a liver biopsy may be performed before the treatment starts. This is done to know the extent of harm the virus has caused. In this, your doctor will insert a needle through your epidermis into the organ to remove a small amount of tissue. Fibrosure blood test and ultrasound-based test are the other tests conducted to know the extent of damage to the liver. Your doctor uses that test which is best for you.

Prevention

Hepatitis C generally occurs through the transmission of blood. A drop of blood is enough to cause the infection of hepatitis C. No vaccine is available to prevent this virus. Check out some steps that will help you to get prevention from hepatitis C:

- You should not share needles. Intravenous drug users have a greater chance of developing hepatitis C because they generally share needles.

- You should avoid direct contact with blood or blood products. The people who work in healthcare should take various precautions and they should touch blood directly.

- There are certain items that we use daily and these items are exposed to blood. These items include scissors, nail cutter, hair clipper, a toothbrush, and razors. Even a drop of blood can infect others. So, if you are suffering from hepatitis C then make sure to not share these items with other people. You should keep all these items away from children.

- f you are looking for a piercing or getting a tattoo, then you should choose the parlour carefully. You should choose a tattoo parlour after checking their procedure. Make sure that they use a new and disposable needle for each and every customer.

- You should practice safe sex. Transmission of hepatitis C through sexual intercourse is rare. But the chance of developing hepatitis C is greater if you have multiple sex partners, have HIV, and have a sexually transmitted disease.

Treatment of HCV

Check out the treatment options that are available in hepatitis C:

- Antiviral medications: The antiviral medications are prescribed by the doctor in hepatitis C in order to remove the virus from your body. The treatment goal is to clear the virus of hepatitis C for at least 12 weeks after the complete treatment. There are some significant advances in the treatment of hepatitis C in which new antiviral medications which act directly are used. Sometimes these medicines are used in combination with existing antiviral medicines. New antiviral medications have fewer side effects, shorter treatment period and better outcomes. The treatment length and medication choice are made on the basis of hepatitis C genotype, prior treatments, medical conditions, and the extent of liver damage.

- Liver transplantation: If due to chronic hepatitis C infection, you are facing serious complications then your doctor may ask you to go for liver transplantation. In liver transplantation, your surgeon removes the damaged liver and replaces it with a healthy one. The livers which are transplanted come from the deceased donors. There are a few living donors who donate their livers. Most of the times, liver transplantation does not help in curing hepatitis C. There is a possibility that infection can come back which requires to be treated with the help of antiviral medications in order to prevent damage to the liver that was transplanted. As per various studies, new antiviral medications that act directly are helpful in curing hepatitis C post-transplantation.

Complications

Many complications are associated with hepatitis C including liver cancer and cirrhosis. In cirrhosis, the liver does not work properly due to damage to the liver from a long period of time. Sometimes due to chronic hepatitis C infection, people have to go for liver transplantation because they are left with this option only. Generally, complications are associated with chronic hepatitis C. So, it is important that you should reach out to the best doctor as soon as you discover the symptoms of hepatitis C. Early diagnosis means early treatment plan which helps in avoiding the complications associated with hepatitis C.

Myths

Check out various myths about hepatitis C:

Myth #1: You can easily tell people if they are suffering from hepatitis C by just looking at them.

Without conducting a test, it is not possible to tell someone that he or she is suffering from hepatitis C. There are a few people who experience the symptoms in case of hepatitis C. It is possible that people have hepatitis C and they experience no symptoms. That is why people know hepatitis C as a silent disease. The symptoms are generally discovered when the disease has already progressed to the liver damage. It is hard to treat it at this stage. Early diagnosis helps to get early treatment.

Myth #2: You cannot do anything about chronic hepatitis C.

Your doctor may suggest you various treatment options if you are suffering from chronic hepatitis C. In some case of chronic hepatitis C, doctors suggest to go for liver transplantation. Your doctor may also prescribe you to have antiviral medications to cure chronic hepatitis C. You should listen to your doctor as they suggest the treatment as per your condition and requirement.

Conclusion

Hepatitis C occurs due to hepatitis C virus (HCV). It causes the inflammation in the liver. Hepatitis C is a highly contagious disease that can be passed on through blood-to-blood contact. It is not necessary that people will experience symptoms in case of hepatitis C. People can have hepatitis C with no symptoms. You should follow good hygiene practices in order to get prevention from hepatitis C. You should not share nail cutter, hair clipper, scissors, toothbrush, and razors with other people. You should not touch blood or blood products directly. Cirrhosis and liver cancer are some of the complications associated with hepatitis C. It is important that you reach out to the doctor as early as possible. Early diagnosis helps in getting early treatment which helps you to avoid various complications that may arise.

If you are looking for the answers to various questions including:

- What is hepatitis C?

- What are the signs or symptoms of hepatitis C?

- What are the causes of hepatitis C?

- How is hepatitis C diagnosed?

- How is hepatitis C prevented?

- How is hepatitis C treated?

- What are various complications associated with hepatitis C?

- What are myths of hepatitis C?

Then you are in the right place. Please do scroll up the page to get the answers.

Last updated on : 14-09-2018

Disclaimer : Docprime doesn’t endorse or take any guarantee of the accuracy or completeness of information provided under this article and these are the views strictly of the writer. Docprime shall not be held responsible for any aspect of healthcare services administered with the information provided on this article.

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