Symptoms Of Hepatitis C
Symptoms of Hepatitis C
Hepatitis C is a viral infection that affects the liver. It can cause both acute and chronic liver disease. In many cases, people with Hep C may not experience any symptoms until the disease has progressed. However, some people may experience the following symptoms:
- Joint pain
- Nausea or vomiting
- Poor appetite
- Stomach pain
- Dark urine
- Gray-colored stools
- Yellowing of the skin and eyes (jaundice)
- Itchy skin
These symptoms may occur 2 to 12 weeks after exposure to the virus. However, many people with Hep C may not experience any symptoms for years or even decades. In some cases, the virus may be detected during routine blood tests before any symptoms occur.
Complications of Hepatitis C
Chronic Hep C can lead to serious health complications, including:
- Cirrhosis: This is scarring of the liver that can lead to liver failure.
- Liver cancer: Chronic Hep C can increase the risk of developing liver cancer.
- Liver failure: This occurs when the liver is no longer able to function properly.
Who is at Risk for Hepatitis C?
Some people are at higher risk for Hep C than others. The following are the most common risk factors:
- Injection drug use: People who inject drugs are at the highest risk for Hep C. This is because the virus can be transmitted through the sharing of needles, syringes, and other injection equipment.
- Blood transfusions before 1992: Before 1992, blood transfusions were not screened for Hep C, so people who received a blood transfusion before this time may have been exposed to the virus.
- Organ transplant before 1992: Like blood transfusions, organs were not screened for Hep C before 1992. People who received an organ transplant before this time may have been exposed to the virus.
- Long-term hemodialysis: People who receive long-term hemodialysis, a treatment for kidney failure, may be at an increased risk for Hep C.
- Having HIV: People who are infected with HIV are at an increased risk for Hep C because both viruses can be transmitted through the same behaviors, such as sharing needles.
- Being born to a mother with Hep C: There is a small risk of mother-to-child transmission during childbirth.
- Having unprotected sex with a person infected with Hep C: Although the risk is low, Hep C can be transmitted through sexual contact, especially if there are open sores or bleeding gums.
Preventing Hepatitis C
There is currently no vaccine for Hep C, but there are steps you can take to reduce your risk of infection:
- Don't share needles, syringes, or any other injection equipment.
- Practice safe sex by using condoms consistently and correctly.
- Ensure that any tattoos or piercings you get are done using sterile equipment.
- Be cautious when handling sharp objects, such as razors or toothbrushes, that may be contaminated with infected blood.
- Do not share personal hygiene items such as toothbrushes or razors with someone who has Hep C.
- Be aware of the potential risks of medical procedures and treatments, such as blood transfusions and organ transplants, and discuss any concerns with your doctor.
- Get tested for Hep C if you have any of the known risk factors or have been exposed to the virus in the past.
Hepatitis C is a serious viral infection that can cause liver damage and other health complications. Many people may not experience any symptoms until the disease has progressed. If you have any of the known risk factors or think you may have been exposed to the virus, it's important to get tested. Practicing safe behaviors and taking steps to prevent infection can also help protect your health.