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Hepatitis C: All You Need To Know About The Deadliest Form of Hepatitis!

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By Apollo 24|7, Published on- 21 December 2022

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Hepatitis is a highly prevalent health issue affecting hundreds of thousands of people around the globe. As per the World Health Organization (WHO), around 325 million people are currently living with hepatitis B and/or C globally. While there are five distinct kinds of viral hepatitis, they all target the same organ - the liver. Notably, the liver is responsible for carrying out several vital bodily functions like storing energy, fighting infections, and cleansing blood. Hepatitis hampers your liver’s ability to perform these functions.

Primarily, hepatitis viruses fall into five categories - A, B, C, D, and E. Out of all these, hepatitis C tends to be the deadliest. WHO states that nearly 58 million people worldwide suffer from chronic hepatitis C with an estimated 1.5 million new infections occurring annually. Generating awareness about hepatitis C and its prevention has become crucial at this stage.

What is Hepatitis C?

Hepatitis C refers to the inflammation of the liver due to the hepatitis C virus (HCV). This virus can cause lifelong serious illnesses like cancer and cirrhosis (scarring of the liver). It can be both chronic and acute.

  • Acute hepatitis C is a short-term infection with symptoms lasting up to 6 months.
  • Chronic hepatitis C is a long-term infection, which can last for the entire life and lead to serious health issues if left untreated.

What are the Symptoms of Hepatitis C?

The majority of those suffering from hepatitis C don’t show any symptoms. However, some experience symptoms within 1 to 3 months of exposure to the virus. The symptoms may be:

  • Fatigue
  • Dark yellow urine
  • Fever
  • Joint pain
  • Clay- or grey-coloured stool
  • Loss of appetite
  • Pain in the abdomen
  • Vomiting or/and nausea
  • Jaundice

Those suffering from chronic hepatitis C often don't have any symptoms until complications arise, which can happen years after exposure to HCV. Consequently, screening for this illness is essential despite having no symptoms. 

How is Hepatitis C Transmitted?

HCV is a blood-borne virus commonly transmitted through:

  • The transfusion of unscreened blood or blood products
  • The inadequate sterilisation or reuse of medical equipment like needles and syringes
  • Injection of drugs through sharing equipment

HCV can be transmitted via sexual practices causing exposure to blood or from an infected mother to a baby during delivery. It does not spread through food, water, breast milk, or casual contact like kissing, hugging, and sharing drinks and food with someone infected. 

Can Hepatitis C be Prevented?

There is no particular vaccine for preventing hepatitis C. However, one can reduce the risk of getting infected by: 

  • Safe disposal and handling of waste and sharps
  • Ensuring appropriate and safe use of injections
  • Making sure donated blood is tested for HCV, HBV, syphilis, and HIV
  • Practising safe sex by using protective barriers like condoms
  • Being cautious about body piercing and tattooing

Increasing awareness and understanding of how hepatitis C works is the only way of reducing its prevalence worldwide. It’s highly advisable to take all the appropriate prevention measures and keep an eye out for any concerning symptoms. Don’t hesitate to consult with a doctor right away if you detect any unusual symptoms. For expert advice, 

Consult An Apollo Liver Specialist

 

Medically reviewed by Dr Sonia Bhatt.

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