Hepatitis occurs when the liver becomes inflamed due to various viruses and other factors, like alcohol, medications, and trauma. Many Americans are affected by hepatitis in its various forms. It is true that some types of hepatitis may not pose a serious threat to your health, yet any infection can become long-lasting problems that could eventually lead to death. Viral hepatitis comes in four forms, all caused by different viruses. The major types are hepatitis A, hepatitis, B, hepatitis C, and delta hepatitis.
HCV, otherwise known as the hepatitis C virus infects nearly 36,000 people every year in the United States alone. It can be considered a mild malady in comparison to other forms of hepatitis, yet it is more likely to lead to chronic liver disease. Some may never show any signs of having hepatitis C, despite the fact that they can become carriers of the virus. Around four million people are HCV carriers and of those four million, an estimated 70 percent will develop chronic liver disease.
Hepatitis C is contracted and spread through exposure to human blood. Sharing needles to inject drugs is a common form of spreading the virus. In fact 80 percent of people with hepatitis C fall under this category. Although it is very uncommon, individuals who receive a blood transfusion may be at some risk. Sexual intercourse has also been known to spread the hepatitis C virus. Luckily, HVC cannot be contracted through food, water, or casual contact, like shaking hands or working in the same vicinity.
It can be difficult to spot the virus due to the fact that no symptoms may occur. When symptoms are visible, they can range from mild to sever. The most common symptoms that occur at the early stages of hepatitis C are headache, fever, fatigue, nausea, diarrhea and loss of appetite. As the virus infects your body, symptoms may include dark urine, clay-colored stool, abdominal pain and jaundice. These symptoms can be extremely uncomfortable to deal with and require medical attention.
Those who are at risk include anyone who has injected drugs, individuals who have received blood products prior to 1987, those who were on chronic renal dialysis, and persons who have persistently elevated liver function tests. Other persons who have received a blood transfusion, or organ transplant before 1992 are also at risk. Health care and emergency medical workers should also get tested due to the chances of an accidental needle stick.
Getting hepatitis C tested is the best way to find out if you have contracted the virus and the appropriate steps to follow after diagnosis. The test is able to identify the proteins that are produced by your immune system as a response to hepatitis C. There are other tests that a doctor can perform to discover if the virus is causing liver damage. In some cases, a liver biopsy is needed.
Although there are no special treatments for hepatitis C, most doctors will recommend bed rest, drinking plenty of fluids, and a healthy diet. Most individuals who suffer from hepatitis C will feel between two to three weeks and will recover from their symptoms in a few months. For those with chronic hepatitis C, a synthetic form of protein called interferon is used for perpetual symptoms. This will help improve liver conditions and minimize symptoms. Treatment can be up to 40 percent effective. You can also opt for herbal remedies to fight the HCV virus.