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What is the Hepatitis C Virus?

Article Details
  • Written By: Jacob Queen
  • Edited By: Lauren Fritsky
  • Last Modified Date: 08 November 2018
  • Copyright Protected:
    2003-2018
    Conjecture Corporation
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Hepatitis C virus is a disease that causes inflammation in an individual’s liver. This disease is contagious, and it’s normally transmitted through contact with someone’s infected blood. If an individual has a case of hepatitis C, he or she may not even become noticeably ill for years. The virus isn’t curable, but there are treatments that can sometimes cause enough suppression to make an infected person feel as though it’s been cured.

One of the most likely ways for someone to catch hepatitis C virus is through needle sharing among drug users. It’s also transmitted occasionally through blood transfusions, although most countries now have screening processes that catch the virus in donated blood. In a few rare cases, it can be transmitted from mothers to their children during the birthing process, and sometimes people manage to transmit it during sex.

In terms of symptoms, the hepatitis C virus is considered quite mild in the earliest stages. In fact, some people never develop any of the most severe symptoms. In cases where people do become noticeably ill, the early part of the disease is almost like a fatigue disorder, with tiredness and muscle soreness being the most common symptoms. As it worsens, people may also develop jaundice, itchy skin, upset stomach, and loss of appetite. Some individuals also run a fever constantly while infected with hepatitis C, and this can sometimes help doctors detect it.

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Most people don’t realize they have the hepatitis C virus until it unexpectedly shows up on a blood test. Once the disease is discovered, doctors will normally inform patients of their options and advise them about what to do in their particular case. The actual approach to treatment can vary quite a bit because the severity of symptoms is so different from one patient to the next, and the treatments are actually considered quite difficult to endure.

The main approach used when treating hepatitis C is antiviral drugs. These usually make the patient sick, and oftentimes people may have to endure more symptoms from the treatment than from the hepatitis. The main reason doctors generally go for the treatment is because hepatitis C has some pretty severe long-term consequences. It can gradually damage a person’s liver quite badly, eventually leading to things like cirrhosis and liver cancer. When deciding whether to start treatment, doctors generally try to weigh the severity of the current liver inflammation against the side effects of the medicine to make the best decision.

There are several different kinds of hepatitis, and all of them inflame the liver. Hepatitis A and B both have available vaccines that can protect people from catching them. There is no way for people to protect themselves from hepatitis C except to avoid behaviors that bring them into contact with other people’s blood.

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