Hepatitis c is a blood-transmitted disease caused by the hepatitis c virus. It is a prevalent viral disease throughout the world; about 71 million people have chronic hepatitis c. It can be either acute or chronic depending on the duration of the infection. It is often transmitted by blood and common among drug users. Injection, unsafe blood transfusion, and receive unscreened blood are the most common etiologies of this disease. This infection can lead to different complications such ass liver cirrhosis, and liver cancer, especially when it is chronic hepatitis. The primary cause of death from hepatitis c is due to liver cirrhosis or hepatocellular carcinoma, with a record of about 399, 000 death recorded annually due to these complications. There is currently no vaccine for hepatitis c, but antiviral drugs can be used for treatment.
Hepatitis c virus (HCV) can be acute or chronic depending on the time frame of the disease. The acute form of hepatitis c has not been linked to any complication or life-threatening conditions. It is often asymptomatic, and one -third of people with acute hepatitis c ‘s symptoms resolve on its own without treatment. The remaining two-thirds of patients having acute hepatitis c progresses to chronic hepatitis C. Chronic hepatitis could cause numerous complications such as liver cirrhosis and carcinoma of the liver.
It is a very prevalent disease worldwide especially in some specific areas such as the Mediterranean and European regions; this region has recorded hepatitis frequency of 2.3% and 1.5 % respectively. The generation of people given birth to during 1945 and 1965 are more prone to hepatitis C.
Causes of Hepatitis C
Hepatitis c is caused by a virus named after the diseases; it is blood-borne disease, this diseases can be spread by infusion or contact with virus-infected blood or its derivatives. It is common among drug users, and people that take unscreened blood. There are 2 specific genotypes of hepatitis c, type 1 which is common in North America and type 2 which is common in America. Both species are common in Europe, Africa, and Asia.
The diseases itself is caused by a virus, but there are some risk factors that make people more prone to hepatitis C. The following risk factors increase your chance of having hepatitis c:
- Healthcare Worker: It is funny to know that health workers know a lot of this disease, but they are the most exposed, as far as hepatitis c is concerned. It is a blood-borne Health worker are frequently exposed to this virus, because they work with infected blood, especially when they are pierced by a contaminated needle accidentally.
- Underlying Disease: People with underlying disease such as HIV, are more prone to hepatitis c virus, the presence of immune-weakening conditions such as HIV engendered hepatitis c infection.
- Tattoo and Piercing: Thee numbers of tattoo users makes tattoo and piercing shops, a ubiquitous breeding site for hepatitis c virus. The safety and sterility of tattoo and piercing equipment can’t be ascertained in most shops.
- Drug users: Frequent drug users are more likely to have hepatitis c from the unsterilized
- Blood transfusion: Frequent unsterilized or unsafe blood transfusion is a common cause of hepatitis c, it is more severe in people that receive a blood transfusion or organ transplant before 1992.
- Hemodialysis: Prolonged hemodialysis could increase the chance of someone having hepatitis c. Receiving blood concentrate could also cause hepatitis c, especially when received before 1987.
- Child Birth: There is an increased likelihood of developing hepatitis C in children with parents or mothers with hepatitis c history.
- Prison: There is low health –care in prisons, and it has been discovered that most prisoners use unsterilized injections and needles.
Signs and Symptoms of Hepatitis C
Approximately 80 percent of hepatitis c patients are asymptomatic during the incubation period. The incubation period lasts from 2 weeks to 6 months. However, there are some general sign and symptoms for all symptomatic patients with hepatitis c diseases.
Sometimes, the hepatitis c especially chronic hepatitis could be silent or asymptomatic; the symptoms often start manifesting after liver damage. The most common sign and symptoms of hepatitis c include:
- Clotting Problems: The liver is a vital organ in the blood clotting cascade and Damage to the liver during hepatitis c could lead to easy bruising, bleeding, and delayed blood clots.
- Poor appetite
- Itchy skin
- Jaundice: Liver is vital in bilirubin metabolism, damage to the liver causes excess bilirubin deposit s and The excess bilirubin can engender yellow discoloration of the sclera, skin, and mucous membrane.
- Dark colored urine
- Weight loss
- Ascites: The liver participates in the portal-cava anastomosis; This anastomosis can become congested during hepatitis c leading to ascites. Ascites is the build-up of fluids in the abdomen.
- Edema: Most times, hepatitis patient have unusual swelling in the leg due to the accumulation of fluids in their legs.
- Hepatic Encephalopathy: The metabolism of bilirubin is altered during liver damage. The excess bilirubin could accumulate in different parts of the body such as the brain. The accumulation of bilirubin in the brain is called hepatic encephalopathy. It could present as various symptoms such as confusion, drowsiness, and slurred speech.
- Spider angioma: These are spider-like blood vessels on the skin. These blood vessels interfere with normal blood flow
Best Treatment for Hepatitis C
Hepatitis c is often asymptomatic and resolves on its own; the body’s immune system fights the infection and heals on its own. Some people don’t end up having chronic hepatitis. However, the primary goal of treatment is a cure for hepatitis. The recovery rate depends on the strain of the virus and the treatment options.
There are different medications for treating hepatitis C, the best combination for treating hepatitis c is Sofosbuvir, daclatasvir and the sofosbuvir/ledipasvir combination are part of the preferred regimens in the WHO guidelines and can achieve cure rates above 95% other treatment options includes:
- Antiviral drugs
- Liver transplant
Hepatitis C is a common blood-borne disease that affects different races and age group. It can be treated with antiviral medications.
Hepatitis C. (2018). World Health Organization. Retrieved 9 March 2018, from http://www.who.int/mediacentre/factsheets/fs164/en/
Hepatitis C. (2018). Nhs .uk. Retrieved 9 March 2018, from https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/hepatitis-c/
Hepatitis C FAQs for the Public | Division of Viral Hepatitis | CDC. (2018). Cdc.gov. Retrieved 9 March 2018, from https://www.cdc.gov/hepatitis/hcv/cfaq.htm