Hepatitis C is a medical condition that is caused by a virus and leads to the liver becoming inflamed and irritated. The hepatitis C virus is transmitted primarily through contact with the blood of an infected person. Common signs of hepatitis C include fatigue, muscle pain, and loss of appetite, although many people have no symptoms at all. There is no specific treatment for hepatitis C, so treatment options are aimed at dealing with specific symptoms. Some of these treatment options may include dietary modification, lifestyle changes, or, in the most severe cases, surgical intervention.
The hepatitis C virus can spread to anyone, although certain portions of the population are more at risk than others. Those most at risk are intravenous drug users and those who have received blood transfusions. Those who have had a history of sexually transmitted diseases or have had multiple sex partners may be at a higher risk as well. In some cases, a baby who is born to a mother who has hepatitis C will be infected as well.
Some people have no signs of hepatitis C until liver damage occurs. This may take up to 10 years after the person has been infected. For those who do experience symptoms, the signs of hepatitis C often include fatigue and muscle pain. A person may notice that bruising occurs more easily or a cut may take longer than normal to stop bleeding. A loss of appetite due to extreme nausea is a problem for many people.
Jaundice is one of the more common signs of hepatitis C. Jaundice is a medical condition that causes the skin as well as the white portion of the eyes to appear yellow. Some people may experience swelling, particularly in the stomach and ankles. The urine may become darker than normal, while the stool may appear lighter.
Since there are typically no signs of hepatitis C until the condition becomes chronic, there is generally no treatment in the earliest stages of the disease. Once treatment begins, medications are typically prescribed to try to slow the progression of damage to the liver. Other medications may be prescribed to combat specific symptoms, such as nausea or pain.
In cases where liver damage is severe, a liver transplant may become necessary. This is a medical procedure in which the diseased liver is removed and then replaced with a donor liver. A liver transplant is a complicated procedure, and the patient will always need to take medications to try to keep the body from rejecting the new organ.