Hepatitis C

Overview of Hepatitis C

Hepatitis C is a liver infection that is caused by the hepatitis C virus. It causes liver inflammation that may result in serious health issues, like severe liver damage. It spreads through the blood or other body fluids of an infected person.

Hepatitis C Meaning in Urdu

ہیپا ٹائٹس سی جگر کا انفیکشن ہے جو کہ ہیپا ٹائٹس سی نامی وائرس کی وجہ سے لاحق ہوتا ہے۔ یہ ایک متعدی مرض ہے جو کہ زیادہ تر خون کے ذریعے پھیلتا ہے۔ اگر ہیپا ٹائٹس سی کے شکار افراد اگر دوسرے افراد کو خون دیں تو یہ مرض آسانی کے ساتھ منتقل ہو جاتا ہے۔ اس کے علاوہ اگر سرنج یا بلیڈ کو دوسری مرتبہ استعمال کیا جائے تو پھر بھی یہ مرض لاحق ہو سکتا ہے۔ ہیپاٹائٹس سی کے شکار افراد کو تھکاوٹ کا سامنا کرنا پڑتا ہے، اس کے علاوہ جِلد اور آنکھوں کا رنگ پیلا ہو جاتا ہے۔

Chronic HCV treatment includes oral medications for six months. People with HCV may not conclude if they have HCV infection because it often does not show any symptoms at an early stage. Sometimes, the symptoms of hepatitis C take time to appear.

Signs and Symptoms of Hepatitis C

Chronic hepatitis C infection is a long-term infection that damages the liver of the infected person. A regular checkup can help to detect the infection early.

The following symptoms and signs may appear:

  • Poor appetite
  • Fatigue
  • Bleeding easily
  • Bruising
  • Swelling in legs
  • Weight loss
  • Spider-like blood vessels on the skin
  • Drowsiness, slurred speech, and confusion
  • Yellowish of eye whites and skin
  • Fluid buildup in the abdomen
  • Brown or dark-colored urine
  • Itchy skin

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Causes of Hepatitis C

Hepatitis C virus (HCV) is the cause of hepatitis C infection. HCV occurs in different distinct forms. Hepatitis C is spread through blood contact from an infected person. Sharing needles and other sharp objects increase the risk of becoming infected with hepatitis C.

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Risk Factors of Hepatitis C

Following risk factors can increase the exposure to hepatitis C infection:

  • Have HIV
  • Have had a blood transfusion or organ transplant before 1992.
  • Have had hemodialysis treatments before 1987
  • Lived in prison
  • Born by an infected mother
  • Have had a tattoo using unsterile equipment
  • A healthcare worker who has more exposure to infected people

Complications of Hepatitis C

Long-term hepatitis C infection causes many health complications, such as:

Liver Cancer: It develops in a few people who have hepatitis C infection.

Scarring of the Liver: Cirrhosis or scarring of the liver occurs when hepatitis C infections last long. Cirrhosis makes it difficult for your liver to work.

Liver Failure: Liver damage or scarring of the liver may lead to organ failure, a life-threatening condition.

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Prevention

Given below tips can help to prevent hepatitis C infection:

Safe Sex: Being engaged in unprotected sex leads to the transmission of an infected person's body fluid. The risk is low in monogamous partners. Practicing safe sex can prevent the spread of hepatitis C infection.

Quit Use of Illicit Drugs: Get medical help if you use illicit drugs.

Prefer the Use of Sterile Equipment: Always prefer to use sterile equipment to minimize the risk of hepatitis C infection exposure.

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Diagnosis

The screening for hepatitis C infection is crucial for all adults ages 18 to 79. A person should not wait for the symptoms and signs of being infected or liver disease. If you are at high risk of getting infected by hepatitis C infection, HCV screening is necessary. The following factors also require hepatitis C screening:

  • Born to a mother with an HCV infection
  • Have an abnormal liver function without any cause
  • Healthcare workers with a high risk of needles exposure
  • Someone’s been in prison
  • Someone with HIV infection
  • Inhaled illicit drugs
  • Living with long-term hemodialysis treatment
  • Someone who has had an organ transplant before 1992

Tests for Chronic Hepatitis C

Your doctor may ask for the following tests to check liver damage:

Transient Elastography (Ultrasound type): It is a noninvasive test that involves transmitting vibrations into the liver and helps to measure the dispersal speed through liver tissues. This test helps to detect liver tissue stiffness.

Blood Tests: A blood test indicates the fibrosis extent in the liver.

Liver Biopsy: An ultrasound helps to insert a thin needle through the abdominal wall to get the liver tissue sample. The tissue sample is sent to the laboratory for further testing.

Magnetic Resonance Elastography (MRE): It is noninvasive testing that is a combination of imaging technology with a pattern formed by sound waves bouncing off the liver. It gives results by creating a visual map and revealing stiffness throughout the liver. When there is liver tissue stiffness found, it indicates liver scarring or fibrosis, caused by chronic hepatitis C.

Treatment of Hepatitis C | When to Consult a Doctor

Different treatments are recommended for hepatitis C infection, such as:

Antiviral Medications: To clear the virus from your body, antiviral medications are used. Direct-acting antiviral medications are new and used in combination with present medicines. It gives better results and fewer side effects. Researchers come up with the fact that these modern medicines give shorter treatment times, around 8 weeks. The treatment period also depends on the progress of the hepatitis C infection.

Liver Transplantation: Chronic hepatitis C infection damages your liver and impairs its function. Severe liver damage leads to a liver transplantation option. It involves the removal of the damaged liver with a healthy liver.

The risk of the infection returning is still high after the liver transplant. You may be recommended antiviral medications to reduce the hepatitis C infection.

Vaccination: Vaccine is available for hepatitis A and B but not for Hepatitis C. But you may be ordered by your doctor for the vaccine. Hepatitis A and B viruses can also cause liver damage.

Doctors to treat Hepatitis C

Last updated on Friday 21/10/2022

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Dr. Syed Noman Matloob

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Pediatrician | MBBS, FCPS , FCPS(Neonatal Medicine),PGPN, IPPN,CHPE , CHR

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Dr. Shahid Aslam

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