Hepatitis is a medical condition which causes the inflammation of the liver and is characterized by the presence of inflammatory cells in the organ. A lot of factors that may cause the condition include various toxins, some diseases, certain drugs, bacterial and viral infections, and heavy alcohol use. Basically, hepatitis is regarded as the family of viral infections that affect the liver. Some of the common types of hepatitis include Hepatitis A, Hepatitis B, and Hepatitis C.
Detailing hepatitis types:
All three types of Hepatitis are diseases, that are caused by three different viruses and may cause similar symptoms, but have different modes of transmission which affect the liver differently. Hepatitis A refers to as an acute or newly occurring infection which lasts for a few days to several months and does not become chronic. Reports have stated in their studies that people with Hepatitis A usually improve without any treatment. Moreover, Hepatitis B as the name suggests, is the disease caused by the Hepatitis B virus (HBV), which begins as an acute infection, which ranges in severity from mild illness to a long term serious chronic illness that can lead to liver cancer.
But, the most chronic and deadly Hepatitis is Hepatitis C, which primarily affects the liver and is caused by the hepatitis C virus (HCV). The infection of hepatitis C remains in the body of some people resulting in chronic disease and leads to long-term liver problems like liver cancer and cirrhosis.
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What is Hepatitis C?
It is an infectious disease which affects the liver and is often regarded as asymptomatic. HCV virus spreads initially due to the blood-to-blood contact associated with intravenous drug usage, transfusions, and poorly sterilized medical equipment. Moreover, it has been reported that an estimated 150–200 million people around the world are infected with hepatitis C.
What are the symptoms of Hepatitis C?
Most people suffering with hepatitis don’t know that they have the disease, but some people experience symptoms like:
- Jaundice (this is a condition that causes yellow eyes and skin along with dark urine)
- Loss of appetite
- Stomach pain
Transmission of Hepatitis C:
Hepatitis C is a contagious liver disease which usually spreads when blood of an infected person’s virus enters the body of a person who is not infected. Reports have suggested that most people in this generation are getting infected with this deadly virus generally by sharing needles or other equipment to inject drugs. As of reports, before the year 1992, when widespread screening of the blood supply began, Hepatitis C commonly spread through blood transfusions and organ transplants that time.
Some of the factors that account for the exposure or transmission of hepatitis C include:
- Most common is the sharing of drugs and infected needles
- Through birth from a mother to her child
Below are some of the less commonly factors or activities through which people can get Hepatitis C virus infection. These are as follows:
- Having sexual contact with the person infected with Hepatitis C
- Sharing items that may have come in contact with the infected person’s blood, including razors or toothbrushes
It has to be in the mind of the people that Hepatitis C doesn’t spread through water, food, or by any sort of casual contact.
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Who is at risk for Hepatitis C?
There are various other factors apart from the above mentioned ones that play an important role in transmission of Hepatitis C. These include:
People who have received a blood transfusion or organ transplant before 1992
People who have received a blood product used to treat their clotting problems before 1987
If people were born between the year 1945 and 1965
Health care workers who got injured by needle sticks
People received any body piercing or tattoos, which has been done with non-sterile instruments
Diagnosing Hepatitis C:
It is common among persons suffering with chronic Hepatitis C to have a liver enzyme level going up and down with periodic returns to normal. People should have tested and re-checked themselves several times over a 6–12 month period if their liver enzyme level is normal. Moreover, the doctor may perform certain blood tests to diagnose the Hepatitis C. Your doctor may perform just one or a combination of these tests. He/she may also do a screening test that will show whether the person has developed antibodies to the Hepatitis C virus. After diagnosing the disease your doctor will suggest you the correct treatment procedure to deal with the situation.
Treatment of Hepatitis C:
The acute hepatitis C can be treated with medications which are commonly used to treat chronic Hepatitis C. Generally, acute infection of Hepatitis C can clear on its own without any specific treatment in about 25% of people. Moreover, it has been reported that if acute hepatitis C is diagnosed early, then the treatment will definitely reduce the risk of acute hepatitis C to become a chronic infection.
Basically, the treatment options for hepatitis C keeps changing as the medical science progresses, but the standard treatment was typically Interferon along with other drugs like Ribavirin and either Victrelis or Incivek. Moreover, researchers have stated in their studies that the newer drugs, including Olysio and Solvadi cure more people in less time with fewer side effects. This is because Interferon has various side-effects like fatigue, fever, chills, and depression. Due to the advancement, doctors are now hoping that in the near future more people will be able to stop taking interferon due to its intolerable side-effects.
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Common side-effects of medications:
Side-effects depend on the drugs you take to treat hepatitis C. Basically, side-effects of Interferon and Ribavirin include:
- Headache, fever, fatigue, chills, and muscle ache
- People suffer arthritis-like pain in the back and joints
- Gastrointestinal problems like abdominal pain, nausea, and diarrhea
Low blood cell counts
Side-effects of Olysio with Interferon and Ribavirin:
- Rash (sensitivity to sunlight)
- Muscle pain
Side-effects of Solvadi with Ribavirin:
- Low red blood cell count
- Flu-like symptoms (fatigue, headache)
Side-effects of Solvadi with Interferon and Ribavirin:
- Low red blood cell count
Essential steps to deal with Hepatitis C side-effects:
People can follow the below mentioned tips to deal with the side-effects of hepatitis C treatment. These are:
- It is recommended for people who experience fever or aches after a few hours of their Interferon shot. They just have to get the shot at bedtime. Additionally, people can also take Acetaminophen or Ibuprofen about 30-60 minutes before their shot. Doing this will ease their situation.
- People are more likely to get into depression after their shot. They just need to inform about the situation (how they feel) to their doctor. He/she may prescribe an antidepressant to relax your mood. Moreover, your doctor may also suggest you to perform regular exercise to boost your mood.
- If you have a problem of dry skin, then use moisturizing soaps and lotions. Furthermore, also avoid long, hot showers or baths.
- People who face, stomach problems due to their medications and then they should try to have their medications with food. Moreover, ask your doctor about medications that might help with nausea or diarrhea.
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