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Hepatitis C : Causes, Symptoms, Risk Factors, Diagnosis, Treatment, Prevention and Complications

Oct 27, 2023

Hepatitis C : Causes, Symptoms, Risk Factors, Diagnosis, Treatment, Prevention and Complications

Hepatitis C is a virus-induced condition that causes inflammation, or swelling, in the liver. Hepatitis C has the potential to cause severe liver damage. People can transmit the hepatitis C virus (HCV) by contact with blood.

Most people with chronic, or persistent, hepatitis C prefer the more recent generation of antiviral drugs. Chronic hepatitis C is often treated with these medications.

Many hepatitis C sufferers, nevertheless, are not aware that they have the disease. This is mostly because symptoms can not appear for decades.

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Causes Of Hepatitis C 

Hepatitis C infection is brought on by the hepatitis C virus (HCV). The infection spreads when blood containing the virus gets into the body of a healthy person.

Numerous genotypes of hepatitis C infection are widespread throughout the world.

Chronic hepatitis C always develops in the same way, regardless of the genotype of the virus that causes it. However, the treatment plan may vary depending on the viral genotype. However, a variety of genotypes can be treated by modern antiviral drugs.

Symptoms Of Hepatitis C 

Acute hepatitis C is usually not detected because symptoms are rarely present. Fever, headaches, nausea, lethargy, and jaundice are possible symptoms during this stage.

A prolonged hepatitis C infection is referred to as chronic hepatitis C. Chronic hepatitis C usually doesn't cause any symptoms for a long time. The virus doesn't cause symptoms to appear until it has damaged the liver enough to cause them.

Among the symptoms could be:

  • Easy bleeding.
  • Easy bruising
  • Fatigue.
  • Denying to eat food.
  • Yellowing discoloration of the skin, sometimes called jaundice. Perhaps white people are more vulnerable to this. In addition, yellowish discoloration of the white parts of the eyes is seen in African Americans, White Americans, or Brown Americans.
  • Dark urine.
  • Itchy skin
  • A buildup of fluid in the stomach area is known as ascites.
  • Legs that are swollen
  • Decreased weight.
  • Hepatic encephalopathy presents as tiredness, disorientation, and slurred speech.
  • Spider-like blood vessels embedded in the skin are called spider angiomas.

Not every instance of acute hepatitis C infection develops into a chronic illness. Some people eliminate the virus from their bodies after the acute phase. This is known as spontaneous viral clearance. Antiviral drugs are another treatment option for acute hepatitis C.

Risk factors Of Hepatitis C 

  • Anyone who has ever injected, snorted or inhaled an illegal substance.
  • Anyone whose cause for abnormal liver test findings is unknown.
  • Children of a hepatitis C patient.
  • Pregnant females
  • Personnel having a history of needlestick injuries or contact with blood in the emergency room or medical area.
  • Those who had previously undergone extended hemodialysis.
  • People who had blood or organ transplant
  • Partners for any individual with a diagnosis of hepatitis C during sexual relationships.
  • People who test positive for HIV.
  • Men who have sexual relationships with other men.
  • Sexually active people who are about to start using the HIV prevention drug known as pre-exposure prophylaxis, or PrEP.
  • Someone who has been to jail.

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Diagnosis Of Hepatitis C 

Additional blood testing can be done if a screening test indicates a diagnosis of hepatitis C.

  • Determine the blood's hepatitis C virus concentration, known as the viral load.
  • Determine the genotype of the virus.
  • Tests for liver damage

Some or all of the following tests attempt to identify liver damage in patients of chronic hepatitis C.

  • Magnetic resonance elastography is known by the acronym MRE. Instead of a liver biopsy, you can employ this noninvasive imaging method. Magnetic resonance imaging methods are combined with sound wave patterns produced by sound waves rebounding off the liver. This makes the liver's stiffest regions visible on a map. Stem cell insufficiency is a sign of fibrosis, or liver scarring.
  • Transient elastography. A further test for liver stiffness involves vibrating the liver using ultrasonic equipment. The test measures the rate of vibration penetration into the liver tissue.
  • Liver biopsy For this, ultrasonography is a commonly utilized guide. A tiny needle is introduced into the liver to remove a small sample of liver tissue for analysis in the lab.
  • Examinations of blood. A series of blood tests can be used to assess the extent of liver scarring.

Treatment Of Hepatitis C 

Antiviral medications are used to treat hepatitis C. They help in the pathogen's removal from the body. The goal of treatment is to completely remove the hepatitis C virus from the body for a minimum of 12 weeks after treatment ends.

A more modern family of drugs known as direct-acting antivirals has better outcomes, fewer side effects, and shorter treatment times. The shortest treatment period is eight weeks. The choice of drugs and length of treatment are influenced by the hepatitis C genotype, liver damage, comorbid conditions, and prior medical interventions.

Throughout treatment, the care team keeps an eye on how the patient is responding to the drug and any side effects. The standard course of treatment with direct-acting antiviral medications is 12 weeks.

The rate of change in treatment is being accelerated by research. It is therefore advised to discuss treatment alternatives with a physician.

Liver Transplantation

A liver transplant may be an option if a chronic hepatitis C infection seriously damages the liver. During a liver transplant, a surgeon removes the damaged liver and implants a healthy liver. A very small portion comes from livers that are partially donated by living donors otherwise most of the donors are the persons who have already died.

Usually, a liver transplant cannot treat hepatitis C on its own. The infection will probably return. Additional antiviral drug therapy is necessary to prevent damage to the developing liver. Numerous studies have shown that using more modern antiviral drugs, hepatitis C can be treated after transplant. The more modern antivirals can sometimes cure hepatitis C before a liver transplant.


There is no hepatitis C immunization. A medical practitioner would, however, likely suggest receiving a vaccination against the hepatitis A and B viruses. These viruses also carry the risk of aggravating hepatitis C and damaging the liver.

Prevention Of Hepatitis C 

Some protective factors against hepatitis C infection include:

  • Stop consuming illegal drugs. If you take illicit substances, get help.
  • Be careful when having body piercings and tattoos. Select a place for tattoos or piercings that has an excellent track record for hygiene. Ask about the procedures utilized to keep the equipment clean. Make sure the personnel are using sterile needles.
  • Practice safer sex. You should never have unprotected intercourse with a partner whose health you are not sure about. Avoid having several sex partners. It is unusual for couples who only have sex together to obtain hepatitis C from one another.

Complications Of Hepatitis C 

A prolonged hepatitis C infection might have dangerous consequences, such as these:

  • Liver scarring, known as cirrhosis: Hepatitis C can leave scars even after decades of disease. Liver scarring makes the liver less able to operate normally.
  • Carcinoma of the liver: Hepatitis C infection can occasionally result in liver cancer.
  • Disorders of the liver: A large scar may lead to liver failure.

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