Flu-Like Symptoms May Signal Hepatitis C
Hepatitis C is an infection caused by the hepatitis C virus that can lead to liver inflammation and it’s damage. The inflammation is when the tissues of the body get swollen due to an injury or an infection. Hepatitis C can cause an acute or chronic infection and there is no vaccine available for this disease. But most medicines and proper treatment can cure it.
Acute hepatitis C
This is a condition where infection is short term and the symptoms last up to 6 months. Also in number of cases the patient’s body will fight off the infection and thus killing the virus.
Chronic hepatitis C
This is a condition where infection is long lasting and occurs when your body isn’t able to fight off the virus. Also if untreated then chronic hepatitis C can result in chronic liver disease, cirrhosis, liver cancer and even liver failure.
Hepatitis C infected people mostly have no symptoms. Although people with chronic hepatitis C do not develop symptoms even till decades after getting infected until complications start to develop. Also some people having an acute hepatitis C infection can have symptoms within 4 weeks to 3 months after being exposed to the virus. These symptoms may include
- Dark yellow coloured urine
- Tire-some feeling
- Gray coloured stools
- Pain in the joints
- Appetite loss
- Abdominal pain
- Jaundice, of which the primary symptom is where the person will have yellowish eyes and skin
Causes Of Hepatitis C
It can be caused and spread by:
- Use of infected needles
- Using infected tools for the purpose of body piercing or tattooing
- Infected person’s blood or open sores can be a source of infection
- Physical contact with infected people’s personal objects such as razor, toothbrush or nail clippers
- Child of an infected mother at or before the time of getting pregnant and delivering
- Having unprotected sex with a person who can be infected with this infection or may be HIV-positive
However it can’t be spread through
- Saliva breath of an infected person like if an individual is coughed or sneezed on by an infected person
- Consuming water or food or sharing utensils
- Hugging, shaking hands, holding hands or sitting next to an infected person
- Medical history
- Physical examination where the doctor would check for any changes in the skin colour, and tenderness or swelling in the abdomen, lower part of the legs, feet, or ankles.
- Blood tests
- Screening test for antibodies: To find out if the body have developed antibodies to the virus and if there is a positive antibody test then it essentially means that the body was exposed to the virus but it may be possible that the virus is no longer present in the blood.
- Hepatitis C RNA test: To find out if the body still has the virus and the quantity of it. Typically after the antibody test is positive, hepatitis C RNA test is performed to detect RNA, a type of genetic material, from the virus.
- Liver Ultrasound or liver biopsy in cases of chronic infection
Doctors typically prescribe antiviral medicines that would help in the treatment as it will attack the virus in the body curing the disease. Typically the medicines are given for a period of 12 – 24 weeks, although the treatment time is dependent on a few other factors also such as extent of liver damage, or if there is any history of hepatitis C treatment in the past. Blood tests are also conducted post the treatment time to ascertain the effectiveness of the treatment and medicines prescribed.
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