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Hepatitis C

What is Hepatitis C?

Hepatitis C is a disease of the liver caused by the hepatitis C virus (HCV). Hepatitis C is spread by contact with the blood of an infected person.

The progression of hepatitis C is typically silent until it is late in the course of disease. When symptoms are present, often liver cirrhosis (scarring) has been occurred. The progression to liver cirrhosis only occurs in 20 percent of those with hepatitis C and liver failure develops in about 5 percent.

From the time of acquisition of the virus it can take up to 50 years to develop cirrhosis. Most people with hepatitis C are unaware that they have it.

What are the Symptoms of Hepatitis C?

There are many signs and symptoms of Hepatitis C. However, 80% of persons with hepatitis C have no signs or symptoms. Some of the symptoms of hepatitis C are: jaundice, fatigue, dark urine, abdominal pain, loss of appetite, and nausea.

What Causes Hepatitis C?

Hepatitis C is caused by the HCV virus.

How is Hepatitis C Transmitted?

Transmission of hepatitis C occurs when blood or body fluids from an infected person enters the body of a person who is not infected. Some of the most common ways hepatitis C is transmitted are: sharing needles when taking drugs, through needlesticks or sharps exposures on the job, or from an infected mother to her baby during birth.

Can Hepatitis C be Prevented?

Unfortunately, there is no vaccine to prevent hepatitis C. You can prevent yourself from contracting it by: not doing drugs that involve sharing of needles, syringes, or water; do not come into contact with bodily fluids from people who have Hepatitis C; do not share personal care items such as razors, toothbrushes, that might have blood on them.

Risks of Developing Hepatitis C

Some of the risk factors for developing Hepatitis C are: a blood transfusion before 1992, intravenous drug use at any time, having a tattoo, sexual exposure to someone with hepatitis C, or cocaine snorting.

What are the Long Term Effects of Hepatitis C?

One of the main long term effects of hepatitis C is chronic liver disease.

What can persons with Hepatitis C infection do to protect their liver?

Some of the things a person who has hepatitis C to protect their liver is:

  • Stop using alcohol
  • See your doctor regularly
  • Don't start any new medicines or use over-the-counter, herbal, and other medicines without a physician's knowledge

Hepatitis C Statistics

Nearly 4 million Americans have been exposed to hepatitis C by blood-to-blood contact and over 2.7 million have an ongoing chronic infection.

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