Hepatitis C is an infectious disease
affecting the liver, caused by the hepatitis C virus (HCV). The
infection is often asymptomatic, but once established, chronic infection
can progress. In some cases other complications occur including
C is a liver disease that is caused by infection with the hepatitis
You cannot get hepatitis C from casual contact such as hugging,
kissing, sneezing, coughing, or sharing food or water with someone.
You can get hepatitis C if you come into contact with the blood
of someone who has hepatitis C.
The most common way to get hepatitis C is by sharing needles
and other equipment used to inject illegal drugs.
If you are injecting drugs, the best way to protect yourself
is by not sharing needles or other equipment with others.
In rare cases, a mother with hepatitis C spreads the virus to
her baby at birth, or a health care worker is accidentally exposed
to blood that is infected with hepatitis C.
Experts are not sure whether you can get hepatitis C through
sexual contact. If there is a risk of getting the virus through
sexual contact, it is very small.
If you live with someone who has hepatitis C or you know someone
with hepatitis C, you can help protect yourself by not sharing
anything that may have blood on it, such as razors, toothbrushes
and nail clippers.
The incubation period is the time it takes for symptoms to appear
after the hepatitis C virus has entered your body and it is
any time from 2 weeks to 6 months.
Anyone who has hepatitis C can spread the virus to someone else.
If testing shows you have hepatitis C, do not share needles
and keep cuts, scrapes and blisters covered.
Sign and symptoms
the minority of patients who experience acute phase symptoms,
they are generally mild and nonspecific and rarely lead to a
specific diagnosis of hepatitis C.
Symptoms of acute hepatitis C infection include decreased appetite,
fatigue, abdominal pain, jaundice, itching and flu-like symptoms.
Chronic hepatitis C is defined as infection with the hepatitis
C virus persisting for more than six months. Clinically, it
is often asymptomatic (without symptoms) and it is mostly discovered
accidentally (e.g. usual checkup).
The natural course of chronic hepatitis C varies considerably
from one person to another. Although almost all people infected
with HCV have evidence of inflammation on liver biopsy.
Once chronic hepatitis C has progressed, signs and symptoms
may appear that are generally caused by either decreased liver
function or increased pressure in the liver circulation, a condition
known as portal hypertension.
Possible signs and symptoms of liver cirrhosis include ascites
(accumulation of fluid in the abdomen), bruising and bleeding
tendency, enlarged veins especially in stomach and jaundice.
Hepatitis C testing begins with serological blood tests used
to detect antibodies to HCV.
treatment is a combination of, Conventional Interferon/Pegylated
interferon and the antiviral drug ribavirin for a period of
24 or 48 weeks.
Treatment is generally recommended for patients with proven
hepatitis C virus infection and persistently abnormal liver
during the acute infection phase has much higher success rates
(greater than 90%) with a shorter duration of treatment.
Current guidelines strongly recommend that hepatitis C patients
be vaccinated for hepatitis A and B if they have not yet been
exposed to these viruses, as infection with a second virus could
worsen their liver disease.
Alcoholic beverage consumption accelerates HCV associated fibrosis
and cirrhosis and makes liver cancer more likely; insulin resistance
and metabolic syndrome may similarly worsen the hepatic prognosis.
This is also evident that smoking increases the fibrosis (scarring)