Articles On Hepatitis C
Hepatitis C is a sneaky virus. You may not have any symptoms at all. Most people donât. This is one if the reasons, along with treatability now, that all adults are recommended to get tested. Your doctor could check your liver and see only a little damage. You’re usually not diagnosed until they spot a problem with your liver enzymes after a routine blood test.
How Do You Test For Hepatitis C
A simple blood test carried out by a healthcare professional will show whether you have the virus. You may also be given an extra test to see if your liver is damaged.
If youve got hepatitis C you should be tested for other STIs. It’s important that you tell your recent sexual partner/s so they can also get tested and treated. Many people who have hepatitis C do not notice anything wrong, and by telling them you can help to stop the virus being passed on. It can also stop you from getting the infection again.
Complications Of Hepatitis C
Hepatitis C can be a long-term, progressive disease. It can eventually lead to cirrhosis, or scarring of the liver tissue. If this happens, the liver doesnt function as well. Some people with hepatitis C also develop liver cancer.
A liver transplant may be necessary if the virus has significantly damaged your liver. Even with a new liver, youll have to take antiviral medication to avoid infecting the new organ.
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How Can I Protect Myself From Hepatitis C Infection
If you dont have hepatitis C, you can help protect yourself from hepatitis C infection by
- not sharing drug needles or other drug materials
- wearing gloves if you have to touch another persons blood or open sores
- making sure your tattoo artist or body piercer uses sterile tools and unopened ink
- not sharing personal items such toothbrushes, razors, or nail clippers
Hepatitis C can spread from person to person during sex, but the chances are low. People who have multiple sex partners, have HIV or other sexually transmitted diseases, or who engage in rough or anal sex have a higher chance of getting hepatitis C. Talk with your doctor about your risk of getting hepatitis C through sex and about safe sex practices, such as using a latex or polyurethane condom to help prevent the spread of hepatitis C.
If you had hepatitis C in the past and your body fought off the infection or medicines cured the infection, you can get hepatitis C again. Follow the steps above, and talk with your doctor about how to protect yourself from another hepatitis C infection.
If you think you may have been exposed to the hepatitis C virus, see your doctor as soon as possible. Early diagnosis and treatment can help prevent liver damage.
Hcv Infection And Cerebrovascular Events
In chronic HCV infection, cerebrovascular acute and chronic events have been reported with a higher prevalence than that observed in the general population in many cases, such neurologic conditions were associated with the presence of mixed cryoglobulinemia. Enger et al, in the largest retrospective study to date, including 21919 HCV-positive subjects and 67109 HCV-negative control subjects, reported a strict association between HCV and stroke, with a higher adjusted estimated risk of stroke for anti-HCV positive subjects . Gutierrez et al showed a close association between HCV infection and stroke in a retrospective study of subjects from the NHANES cohort during the period 2005-2010. However, it should be underscored that the two above studies have thus far been published only in an abstract form. Nonetheless, in a prospective study, involving a large population cohort from Taiwan, Liao et al established an association between HCV infection and stroke . Recently, in a large retrospective cohort from Taiwan, Hsu et al also found a higher risk of stroke in HCV infected subjects. Likewise, we recorded a higher prevalence of HCV infection in patients with stroke when compared with a large age- and gender-matched control group . In addition, HCV infection turned out to be an independent risk factor for stroke .
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How To Prevent Hepatitis C Infection
Hepatitis C is a blood-borne infection. To reduce the risk of infection, avoid sharing personal items with others. Do not use injected drugs. If you do use injected drugs, never share needles and equipment with others. Getting tattoos and body piercings can put you at risk. Use condoms during sex. Health care workers should take precautions to avoid needlesticks and properly dispose of needles and other materials that encounter blood. Speak to your doctor about your risk factors and follow recommended screening standards for hepatitis C.
How to Prevent Giving Hepatitis C
If you have hepatitis C, these common precautions should be followed to prevent spreading or giving hepatitis C to others:
- Cover cuts and blisters
Getting Tested Is The Only Way To Know If You Have Hepatitis C
A blood test called a hepatitis C antibody test can tell if you have been infected with the hepatitis C viruseither recently or in the past. If you have a positive antibody test, another blood test is needed to tell if you are still infected or if you were infected in the past and cleared the virus on your own.
- Are 18 years of age and older
- Are pregnant
- Currently inject drugs
- Have ever injected drugs, even if it was just once or many years ago
- Have HIV
- Have abnormal liver tests or liver disease
- Are on hemodialysis
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Chronic Hepatitis B Complications
Chronic hepatitis B can lead to
- cirrhosis, a condition in which scar tissue replaces healthy liver tissue and prevents your liver from working normally. Scar tissue also partly blocks the flow of blood through the liver. As cirrhosis gets worse, the liver begins to fail.
- liver failure, in which your liver is badly damaged and stops working. Liver failure is also called end-stage liver disease. People with liver failure may require a liver transplant.
- liver cancer. Your doctor may suggest blood tests and an ultrasound or another type of imaging test to check for liver cancer. Finding cancer at an early stage improves the chance of curing the cancer.
What Are The Signs Of Hep C
Most people with the hepatitis C virus dont show any symptoms, yet hep C can lead to serious health complications.
In people who do develop symptoms from acute infection, the average time from exposure to symptoms ranges from 2 to 12 weeks.Even without symptoms, a person with hep C can still spread the virus to others.
If you’re at risk for hep C, and have experienced any of the symptoms listed below, speak with your healthcare professional and ask if you should be tested. It’s important to note that you should never try to diagnose hep C yourself and that it can only be diagnosed by a healthcare professional.
Symptoms of acute and chronic hepatitis C infection may include:
- Abdominal pain
- Dark urine
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What Other Tests Diagnose Hepatitis C
Once the diagnosis of hepatitis C is established, other tests may be done to determine whether the patient has developed liver fibrosis or scarring . This can be done with a needle biopsy of the liver, and examining the biopsied liver tissue under the microscope. Liver biopsy is less commonly done today because noninvasive tests are more readily available, more easily accomplished and less costly.
Liver imaging can evaluate fibrosis using ultrasound and MRI scans. Additionally, calculations using a variety of blood tests also can predict the degree of inflammation and fibrosis present. Genotype testing will typically be done to determine what subtype of hepatitis C the patient has, as this will impact what drugs are used for treatment.
With the newest forms of antiviral treatment, the most common types of chronic hepatitis C can be cured in most individuals.
When To Seek Medical Advice
See your GP if you persistently have any of the later symptoms listed, or if they keep returning. They may recommend having a blood test that can check for hepatitis C.
Read more about diagnosing hepatitis C
None of these symptoms mean you definitely have hepatitis C, but it’s important to get them checked out.
You should also speak to your GP about getting tested if there’s a risk you’re infected, even if you don’t have any symptoms. This particularly includes people who inject drugs or have done so in the past.
Read about the causes of hepatitis C for more information about who’s at risk of having the infection.
Page last reviewed: 27 October 2021 Next review due: 27 October 2024
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Are There Home Remedies For Hepatitis B
The goals of self-care are to relieve symptoms and prevent worsening of the disease.
- Drink plenty of fluids to prevent dehydration. Broth, sports drinks, gelatin, frozen ice treats , and fruit juices are preferred because they also provide calories.
- Ask your physician before taking any medications, even those that are over-the-counter. Some medications depend on the liver, and liver damage may impair the bodys ability to metabolize these drugs. If you are on prescription medications, check with your physician to see if the doses should be adjusted or if the medication should be temporarily discontinued.
- Avoid drinking alcohol until your healthcare practitioner allows it. Individuals with chronic HBV should avoid alcohol for the rest of their lives.
- Try to eat a diet that provides adequate nutrition. Take it easy. It may take some time for your energy level to return to normal.
- Avoid prolonged, vigorous exercise until symptoms start to improve.
- Avoid any activity that may spread the infection to other people .
Symptoms Of Hepatitis C Virus
Symptoms for HCV may not appear for 20 to 30 years, and that is why it is so important to get tested. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control now recommends that all adults 18 years and older are tested at least once for HCV. Some high risk groups may need more frequent testing, and all pregnant women should be tested during every pregnancy.
HCV can actually clear itself from the body in about 15% of people, but most people become infected with the virus chronically.
Early symptoms of acute HCV occur within 1 to 3 months and may last several weeks. These may include:
- yellow-colored skin or eye sclera
- nausea and stomach pain
- joint or muscle pain
Chronic, long-term symptoms of HCV can include weight loss, fluid build-up and swelling, poor appetite, fatigue, easy bruising and bleeding, itchy skin, jaundice, dark-colored urine, confusion, drowsiness and slurred speech , and spider-like blood vessels on the skin .
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General Signs And Symptoms Of Hepatitis C
As mentioned, many cases of hepatitis C infection often go unnoticed because they donât always present symptoms. If you do present symptoms, they manifest about four to 12 weeks after initial exposure to the virus. Symptoms can also vary between acute and chronic forms of the infection. Acute hepatitis C symptoms may include:
- Pain in your abdomen
- Nausea and/or vomiting
Chronic hepatitis C infections can remain dormant for years, and it usually isnât apparent until the virus has caused significant damage to the liver.
Hcv Infection And Cns Inflammatory Disorders
CNS involvement in chronic HCV infection may also result from encephalic and/or meningeal inflammation.
Cases of leukoencephalitis associated with HCV infection have been reported. Different clinical patterns have been described, ranging from a rapidly evolving form with perivascular T cells infiltrates and microglial nodules to progressive encephalomyelitis associated with neuronal loss and perivascular lymphocyte infiltrates. Spastic quadriparesis, sphincter dysfunction, and sensory loss have been reported to dominate the clinical scenario. As HCV genome in brain tissue has been reportedly detected at post-mortem evaluation, a possible correlation may be theorized.
Evidence of an association between HCV and transverse myelitis, with attending motor, sensitive, and autonomic dysfunction has been reported. Acute demyelination, with parenchymal and perivascular T cell infiltration, has been described on pathological analysis of spinal cord biopsy. Disease onset may be characterized by symptoms indicative of transverse myelitis or acute partial transverse myelopathy, or else by spastic paraplegia or sensory ataxia. A recurrent course and multisegmental spinal involvement have been frequently reported. Since these cases tested positive for anti-HCV antibodies in the liquor, with no evidence of virus in tissue biopsies, an immune-mediated pathogenesis was hypothesized to explain disease pathogenesis.
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When To See A Healthcare Provider
If you develop any of the symptoms of chronic hepatitis, liver damage, or liver cancer, see your healthcare provider. It takes only a blood test to detect the presence of a hepatitis virus in your body .
A blood test also can determine which hepatitis virus you’re infected with, which will determine what your treatment should be .
Stages Of Hepatitis C
The hepatitis C virus affects people in different ways and has several stages:
- Incubation period. This is the time between first exposure to the start of the disease. It can last anywhere from 14 to 80 days, but the average is 45
- Acute hepatitis C. This is a short-term illness that lasts for the first 6 months after the virus enters your body. After that, some people who have it will get rid of, or clear, the virus on their own.
- Chronic hepatitis C. For most people who get hepatitis C — up to 85% — the illness moves into a long-lasting stage . This is called a chronic hepatitis C infection and can lead to serious health problems like liver cancer or cirrhosis.
- Cirrhosis. This disease leads to inflammation that, over time, replaces your healthy liver cells with scar tissue. It usually takes about 20 to 30 years for this to happen, though it can be faster if you drink alcohol or have HIV.
- Liver cancer. Cirrhosis makes liver cancer more likely. Your doctor will make sure you get regular tests because there are usually no symptoms in the early stages.
Learn more about the stages and progression of hepatitis C.
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Late Symptoms Of Hep C
When not spontaneously cleared, the virus eventually develops into a chronic condition and if they didn’t in the acute phase, what are termed “late” symptoms may appear. This is also very variable With some chronic patients symptoms are barely noticeable, while in others, the symptoms significantly impact their lives. As in the acute stage, the chronic symptoms may not occur and those infected may not be aware that it’s is related to hepatitis infection. The symptoms aligned with the chronic state can also be periodic, thus they can appear and disappear over time. Some of the common symptoms include chronic fatigue, joint and muscle aches, declines in short-term memory, concentration and trouble doing complex mental tasks , mood swings, depression and anxiety, indigestion or bloating, and abdominal pain.
While chronic fatigue may be a symptom of hep C, it is a symptom for many illnesses. Unless one is in a high-risk category, its easy to think the hep C symptoms might instead be symptoms of the flu, depression, or other triggers.
How Do You Prevent Hepatitis C
Researchers have yet to develop a vaccine that prevents hepatitis C .
Just as you might not know you have hepatitis C, other people with the condition may not know they have it, either. But you can take a few key precautions to avoid contracting it:
- Avoid sharing needles.
- When getting piercings or tattoos, check to make sure the piercer or tattoo artist uses only sterile, unopened needles and ink.
- Avoid sharing nail clippers, razors, and toothbrushes.
- Use sterile gloves when caring for someone elses wound.
Since hepatitis C is transmitted through blood, you wont get it by sharing food and drinks with someone who has the condition or by hugging, touching, or holding hands.
Hepatitis C is not commonly transmitted through sexual contact. But using a condom or another barrier method when having sex can always help lower your chances of contracting a sexually transmitted infection.
Keep in mind that you can contract hepatitis C again, even if youve had it already.
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Symptoms Of Hepatitis C In Women
Many women dont have symptoms until the disease is in a later stage. Women who have signs of the disease in the earliest stage may brush off symptoms or attribute them to other factors, such as anemia, depression, or menopause.
Early symptoms of hepatitis C in women can include:
- muscle and joint pain
- poor appetite
Some hepatitis C infections are acute and the infection clears or improves on its own without treatment within a few months. Acute infections are more common in women .
Hepatitis C can also be chronic, meaning the infection doesnt clear on its own, but rather progresses and damages the liver. Symptoms of chronic hepatitis and liver damage include:
- bruising or bleeding
- spider veins
The symptoms of chronic hepatitis C occur in both men and women, but the disease can progress slower in women. However, some women experience rapid progression of the disease and liver damage after menopause.
Having these symptoms doesnt mean you have hepatitis C.
Hepatitis C spreads from person-to-person through contact with infected blood. If you work in an industry where you might come in contact with blood, theres a slight risk of exposure. This includes personal care such as:
Hepatitis C can also be spread to a sexual partner during a menstrual cycle.