What is hepatitis c ?
Hepatitis C is a liver disease caused by the hepatitis C virus, two of the most important factors in combating hepatitis C are identifying those who have the condition ...
... because many are infected but don't know it and providing treatment that will cure the disease, the liver is our largest solid internal organ in most adults, it's about the size of a football and it's located underneath the rib cage in the upper right part of the abdomen. the liver has many important functions, it filters blood metabolizes substances such as nutrients and medications, it stores energy makes essential proteins, including those that help the blood to clot when we bleed sometimes, the liver can repair itself but it is susceptible to damage from many different sources, including viruses toxins including alcohol inherited conditions, and even our body's own immune system.
hepatitis C also known as Hep C or HCV is one of several viruses that can damage the liver. more than 170 million people worldwide are living with Hep C, including more than 350,000 Canadians, although vaccinations are available for two other forms of hepatitis, hepatitis A and hepatitis B there is currently no vaccine for hepatitis C, hepatitis C begins as an acute infection after exposure to the hepatitis C virus, some infected individuals will clear the virus on their own, but most of those infected about 75% will go on to develop chronic HCV infection with the hepatitis C virus is often silent that is many infected individuals, do not have any symptoms for those who do symptoms are generally nonspecific, such as mild to severe fatigue, or discomfort in the abdomen sometimes health professionals detect hepatitis C during routine screening, or while investigating the cause of abnormal lab tests over many years inflammation of the liver caused by the hepatitis C virus, usually results in the formation of scar tissue called fibrosis.
The developing fibrosis in the liver can eventually reach a specific level which we call cirrhosis, for patients with cirrhosis ongoing damage to the liver may eventually result in worsening fatigue, fluid accumulation in the abdomen, bleeding from veins in the esophagus, or stomach.
Confusion hepatitis C infection with cirrhosis leads to increased risk, for liver failure and liver cancer the goal in identifying and treating hepatitis C is to cure the disease before cirrhosis develops , and it's complications occur Hep C is not spread by sneezing coughing kissing hugging or shaking or holding hands, it's not spread through food or water or by sharing food drinks or eating utensils with an infected person. however you can get the virus from activities including blood to blood contact injection drug, use or sharing of other contaminated drug paraphernalia which is responsible for 70 to 80 percent of the Hep C infection. transmissions in Canada today sharing personal hygiene items such as razors and toothbrushes with a person who's infected, having piercings tattoos or acupuncture performed without appropriate, sterilization, having a contaminated needle stick injury in healthcare settings, having received a blood transfusion, organ transplantation or blood products. prior to 1992 is considered a significant risk factor, but with current screening practices for blood donors the risk of acquiring hepatitis C from these methods today is exceedingly low, having surgical or dental procedures either in Canada or abroad during which the healthcare provider, use contaminated equipment, although possible sexual transmission is unlikely and requires contact with blood, you also could have acquired Hep C by being born to a woman who had a Hep C infection, but this is very rare.
In North America the most common genotype is 1 followed by genotypes 2 and 3, the longer you remain infected even if you have no noticeable symptoms, the greater your chance of developing liver damage, and of spreading the virus to others if you know you have hepatitis C then stay in close contact with your healthcare providers, and follow the treatment regimen that they recommend for you, if there isn't a therapy available for the Hep C genotype that has infected, you don't lose hope quickly evolving research is bringing faster, easier to tolerate and more effective treatments all the time, in the meantime stay as active and healthy as you can be, so that you'll be ready when the right therapy becomes available to protect your liver from further damage. avoid consuming alcohol and acetaminophen.
The good news is that the new treatments cure hepatitis C, and they have an improved side-effect profile and shorter treatment duration than medications that had been available to treat the disease in the past ,there's also great hope that researchers will discover an effective vaccine which could lead to a worldwide eradication of hepatitis C.