Hepatitis C is a blood born virus that is rarely symptomatic but can lead to massive liver failure. It is caused by the hepatitis C virus (HCV) and is transmitted via blood to blood contact. Just like an ordinary STD, the HCV can spread via several different methods. Some of the problems associated with HCV are cirrhosis, fibrosis, or liver cancer. Depending on the way that the virus attacks your liver, you could end up with scarring, severe tissue damage, or malignancy. If you are pregnant or a heavy alcohol user, then pay close attention to this article as it can be especially dangerous to you.
The problem with HCV is that most people are not symptomatic, therefore many don’t know about it until the damage has been caused. This can be a sever problem, especially in cases where the liver damage is so severe that a transplant is necessary. This isn’t always the case, but it certainly can be.
Some of the symptoms of hepatitis C are jaundice, fatigue, nausea, and abdominal pain. Since the liver is responsible for filtering many toxic byproducts out of the bloodstream, the body can become toxic when the liver starts to fail. This is usually when most people recognize the problem and see a doctor.
There are basically two types of HCV, although they are both the same virus in different stages. The first stage is the acute stage, which is up to 6 months after infection. About 80% of people that come in contact with the HCV will end up with this condition. There are rarely any symptoms at all, although the virus is spreading and causing damage at this time. Once the virus progresses into the chronic stage, the patient might start noticing some of the warning signs. You might feel “flu-like” symptoms or just not feel like yourself. This is especially true if you drink a lot of alcohol, as your damaged liver will have a hard time filtering it out of the bloodstream. Eventually, you might find the need to see the doctor, which is when he or she will begin the diagnostic process.
To diagnose HCV, the doctor will take a blood sample, which will show the virus within 3 weeks of exposure. Many times, the patient doesn’t know they have HCV and find out accidentally. Of course, finding out on accident is better than not knowing, but for many people this comes as quite a shock.
There are some cases where hepatitis C can be cured, but they are few and far between. Don’t let this get you down though, because there are many medications that can be used to treat both the symptoms and the underlying condition. Although it will do little to repair the damage to your liver, it will stop it from developing further. At worst, you will have a shot at preventing cancer and/or a liver transplant. At best you will be cured for life. Still, in most cases the virus is at least temporarily removed from the system, which means your body can start the healing process.
Hepatitis C is certainly no laughing matter, even if it is only a virus. Your chances of successful treatment are much higher if you catch it in the early phases, but there is still hope if you do not. If you feel like you have some symptoms of this disease, then I strongly urge you to talk to a doctor. A blood test is simple and easy to do and it is definitely better to know than not know. You can never be too careful with your vital organs and this is no exception.
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