What is Hepatitis C?
Hepatitis C is an infection caused by hepatitis C virus (HCV). This virus attacks the liver and leads to inflammation. It is generally considered to be among the most serious of hepatitis viruses. Some people who are infected with HCV will recover within six months without any treatment.
But 55–85% of those infected will develop chronic hepatitis C infection.
Chronic hepatitis C can lead to serious liver damage like cirrhosis or liver cancer later in life.
The hepatitis C virus (HCV) is transmitted through blood. The most common modes of infection are through sharing needles and unscreened blood and blood products.
Signs and Symptoms
- Nausea and vomiting
- Loss of appetite
- Abdominal and/or joint pain
- Dark urine
- Jaundice (yellowing of skin or whites of eyes)
The hepatitis C virus test is a blood test that looks for antibodies against the hepatitis C virus. It shows whether the patient has been exposed to the virus. Another blood test that looks for the RNA of the hepatitis C virus shows whether the patient is infected with the virus now.
Liver Function Test
Liver health can be monitored by regular blood tests that measures the levels of liver enzymes. About two thirds of people with chronic hepatitis C have continuously elevated ALT (GPT) levels, reflecting ongoing damage to liver cells. AST (GOT) levels are also often elevated in people with chronic hepatitis C.
According to the WHO, the goal of treatment of chronic hepatitis C is cure. The current standard treatment for hepatitis C is combination antiviral therapy with these two medicines:
- Interferon – a protein that stimulates the immune system to attack virus
- Ribavirin – an antiviral drug that stops hepatitis C from spreading inside the body
Unfortunately, the treatment is often not successful since many patients do not finish their treatment due to strong, unbearable side effects. For those who do finish their treatment, chance of success is around 45% (genotype 1 patients) and 75% (genotype 2 or 3 patients).
Interferon or ribavirin can have side effects such as fatigue, flu-like symptoms, anemia, insomnia, depression, nausea and diarrhea.
- * All research and clinical data should be used as reference purposes only, results may vary.