Hepatitis C is the leading cause for liver diseases in the United States. It is caused by the hepatitis C virus, and is transferred mainly due to unhealthy blood practices.
Although the major cause of hepatitis C is the HCV, it can be caused by other factors, including alcohol and different medications. It can also be a offshoot of other diseases. Hepatitis C is one of the six hepatitis virus, A, B, C, D, E, and G. Around 200 million people around the world are infected with it. This infection causes around 10,000 deaths in USA every year. Also, it is the major cause for liver transplants.
There are various precautions which may prevent the transfer of the hepatitis C virus in humans. One should refrain from using unsanitary tattoo methods, along with unsanitary piercing and acupuncture. Other than that, one should avoid needle stick injuries, and avoid sharing grooming utensils like toothbrushes, shaving kits, and brushes. One should also refrain from sharing needles, bills, and straws used to inject drugs.
Hepatitis C has very few external symptoms, and many people continue living their lives without knowing they have contracted the virus, until the later and more serious stages. The condition has two stages―acute and chronic. Six months after contracting the virus is known as the acute stage. It can be contracted due to many reasons, though the foremost reason still remains blood-blood infection. A person contracts the virus when blood contaminated with HCV enters his or her body. One of the main reasons of such transfusion is tattoos. Other reasons are intravenous drug use and unsafe sex practices.
Hepatitis C is largely a non-symptomatic disease. However, in some cases, certain symptoms ascertained to be of hepatitis C emerge in some individuals. The first symptoms to be seen are dark urine, massive tiredness, loss of energy, loss of appetite, and diarrhea. Other symptoms include tenderness of the upper body, yellowish tints in the skin and eyes, and nausea. People with these symptoms may also have liver enzymes twenty times higher than normal levels. Weight loss and aching joints could also occur.
Hepatitis C can be treated with antiviral drugs. It can be treated with a combination of pegylated interfron alpha and ribavirin. The treatment may take up to six months to one year. Almost 75% of those affected are cured within six months.
If not treated in time, it may become chronic, which in turn may cause chronic liver diseases like liver inflammation, cirrhosis, and liver cancer. Treatment during the acute stage has shown almost 90% of cases being cured. The treatment may be difficult for people with a history of alcoholism. The treatment may also cause temporary disability. Some side effects of the treatment are suicidal tendencies, anemia, and cardiovascular issues. Alternative medicines like Licorice and Sylibum marianum can also help in the treatment. These medicines do not necessarily treat the virus, but decrease the liver’s duties in bodily functions.
Disclaimer: This HealthHearty article is for informative purposes only, and should not be replaced for the advice of a medical professional.