Hepatitis C is an inflammation of the liver caused by hepatitis C virus, abbreviated HCV. This virus causes damage to liver, the organ without which we can not live. The role of the liver is primarily in the production and processing of a number of essential substances for the body. For example in the liver are originated substances that are necessary for proper blood clotting. Therefore, when liver is severely damaged there is an increased risk of bleeding. Even this example illustrates the essential function of the liver for our lives.
Infection with hepatitis C
Hepatitis C virus was discovered and demonstrated only in the 90's of 20th century. Until then, blood donors were not tested whether they suffer from this disease. Currently, the risk of infection with hepatitis C virus during blood transfusion is almost at zero, since the blood at each donation is very strictly controlled. The infection is transmitted by blood, from mother to child during childbirth, by treatment with contaminated tools during tattooing and finally by sexual intercourse. The disease is very common among drug addicts who share needles which significantly increase the risk of infection.
Course and symptoms of hepatitis C
Symptoms of hepatitis C are often very mild and therefore inconspicuous. It may be only occasional fatigue, muscle or joint pain, fever and nausea. Jaundice, i.e. yellowing of the skin and eye sclera is not a regular symptom of the disease. Depending on the course of disease we distinguish acute and chronic form of hepatitis C.
Acute hepatitis C
Acute hepatitis C is in the most cases symptomless disease and therefore at this stage it can not be often diagnosed. If any of the symptoms appear, it is then fatigue, fever, lack of appetite, indigestion, nausea, vomiting and diarrhea. Furthermore, we may see dark urine, pale color of stool and hepatomegaly. As it was already mentioned, jaundice may not be present. It is reported that up to 20% of the patients with acute hepatitis C will recover spontaneously. Unfortunately, up to 80% of acute hepatitis C develops into chronic forms.
Chronic Hepatitis C
Chronic hepatitis C is a disease that lasts longer than six months. Even at this stage, symptoms are non-specific, meaning that they can indicate to other diseases. Pain in the hypochondrium, fatigue, nausea and diarrhea may occur. Deceit of this disease lies in its frequent transition to cirrhosis and liver cancer.
Diagnosis of Hepatitis C
The diagnosis of hepatitis C is based on carefully taken history, examination itself and collection of blood and urine. For patients who have hepatitis C diagnosed are typical frequent tests, increased bilirubin in the blood and urine. In this case, there is also taken more demanding test for the presence of a specific virus and antibodies against this virus in the blood. However, it is necessary to keep in mind that these antibodies appear in the body after 3-6 months of infection. For proper treatment is necessary to determine the number of viral particles per microliter of blood. The result of this test is decisive for the choice of treatment and its duration.
Treatment of Hepatitis C
In the treatment of hepatitis C is used a large number of pharmaceuticals. These are drugs from group of virostatics, which are substances that inhibit multiplication of the virus. Interferons are used along with them. These are substances that human body can create on its own, but during the treatment of this disease are interferons also served in the medication. This will support the body's own immune system to fight against hepatitis.
Prevention of hepatitis C
For viral hepatitis A and B, there is an effective protection against infection by these viruses and that is vaccination. This unfortunately does not apply in case of infection with hepatitis C. A large number of variants of this virus has been described, and currently it is not possible to create an universal vaccine. Therefore, it is necessary to avoid risky behavior such as unprotected sexual intercourse, tattooing in dubious parlors, or sharing needles. If you notice any signs mentioned above and you are aware of close contact with an unknown person, do not hesitate to visit your GP in time.