The term hepatitis describes inflammatory process, developed in the liver tissue.
It may be caused by different factors, from viruses to autoimmune processes.
However specialists say that viral infection is the most common culprit of liver damage.
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There are several types of liver-attacking viruses. Some of them cause acute inflammation that improves within a few weeks, while others stay in liver tissue for a long time, turning into chronic disease.
Hepatitis C is the most wide-spread blood-borne illness in the US. According to the World Health Organization, nearly 71 million of people all over the world live with chronic hepatitis C.
The big problem is that the majority of infected people don't even know that their liver is damaged.
The reason is about lack of typical symptoms and warning signs. In rare cases, initial acute infection may cause fever, extreme tiredness, nausea, vomiting, pain in the upper right part of the belly and jaundice.
But 80% of people with hepatitis C don't have any symptoms for many years, until the most of hepatic cells get destroyed. That's why hepatitis C is often called “silent killer”.
When liver becomes significantly damaged, combination of these symptoms becomes apparent:
#1. Yellowish skin and eyes
#2. Skin itchiness
#3. Joint pain
#5. Easy bleeding and bruising because of problems in blood clots formation
#6. Lack of appetite
#7. Feeling sick
#8. Heaviness and discomfort in the abdomen
#9. Ascites (accumulation of the fluid in the belly)
#10. Swollen legs
#11. Spider-like vessels, visible on the skin
Actually it's completely possible that acute infection clears up without treatment. In researches, in 14-50% of cases, acute HCV infection has been improved spontaneously.
Hepatitis C virus spreads from one person to another through the blood. You can't get it, when kissing, hugging or drinking together with someone who has this disorder.
By the way, it can be transmitted through unprotected sexual contact and from infected mother to the newborn.
Those, who contact with infected blood (health care workers, drug users, prisoners etc.) have very high risks for getting hepatitis C.
Medical experts recommend screening blood test for those, who are in high-risk group. If this test is positive, additional exams should be made to measure viral load of your blood, identify genotype of the infection and evaluate liver damage. Magnetic resonance elastography, transient elastography and liver biopsy can show both healthy and affected areas of the hepatic tissue.
The good news is that today we have powerful antiviral medications to get rid of hepatitis C virus and prevent further damage.
Depending on the genotype of the virus, duration of the illness and extent of the damage, healthcare professional may prescribe you the newest direct-acting medicines. Sometimes condition requires combining this pills with older drugs or transplanting liver tissue from the donor.
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Once you get diagnosis of hepatitis C, it becomes especially important to stop taking alcohol, consuming unnecessary medications (only with accordance to doctor's recommendations) and getting vaccination against hepatitis A and B infections.
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