Hepatitis C is a disease that affects the liver and can cause serious damage. It often shows no signs but left untreated can have irreversible damage. The signs very often only begin when the liver has been severely affected. If symptoms do occur they tend to be generalised symptoms so can often be looked over or mistaken for something else.
· Flu symptoms i.e. aches and pains
· Tiredness; no energy and the feeling of fatigue
· Weight loss
Hepatitis C is a virus that is contained in the blood and less so often in saliva and bodily fluids. It is mostly transferred through blood to blood. Very often people catch it through the sharing of illegal drug equipment. It can also be caught during unprotected inter course. In some countries it can be transferred through blood transfusions and even through organ transplants. In many countries it is estimated that the majority of infected people get it through IDU (intravenous drug use). Even just using intravenous drug equipment just once people can still get infected. Hepatitis C is more commonly known in developing counties such as East Asia where vaccination equipment is used over again and where surgical equipment is not properly cleaned. It is often more commonly found in prisons where a high percentage of drug use occurs and drug use equipment is used by others maybe at the same time. Tattooing is another risk factor when it comes to hepatitis C as improperly sterilised tattooing equipment can transmit the disease. There is a small risk that transmission can happen during pregnancy. When the pregnant women passes it to the foetus. It is not quite clear when the transmission happens, it could happen during the pregnancy or at the birth.
As there are no specific symptoms people can go unaware that they actually have it. High risks groups such as illegal drug users should be aware that sharing intravenous drug equipment t such as needles can pass such diseases on. Having regular tests can help with long term complications and the sooner it can be detected the more easily it can be treated. Hepatitis C can lead to life changing illnesses such as cirrhosis of the liver or even liver cancer which can be fatal, catching it early can prevent such illnesses. A blood test is used as the testing method.
Treating Hepatitis C
Treatment for hepatitis C in recent years has advanced and the outlook is far better. Antiviral medicines are used to treat it. There are 6 known different strains and some are known to respond better to the medication than others. New medication is evolving all the time and even the strains that were difficult to treat are not so anymore. Treatment is known to cure over half of all cases obviously depending on stage and strain of the illness.