Hepatitis C

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Chapter 5 : Hepatitis C

Topics covered in this snack-sized chapter:

Hepatitis C arrow_upward

  • Hepatitis C is a contagious liver disease that results from infection with hepatitis C virus (HCV).
  • It can range in severity from a mild illness lasting a few weeks to a serious, lifelong illness.
  • HCV is usually spread when blood from a person infected with HCV enters the body of someone who is not infected.
  • HCV is among the most common viruses that infect the liver.
  • It is estimated that 3–4 million people are infected with HCV each year.
  • Some 130–170 million people are chronically infected with HCV and at risk of developing liver cirrhosis and/or liver cancer.
  • More than 350, 000 people die from HCV-related liver diseases each year.
  • HCV infection is found worldwide.
  • Countries with high rates of chronic infection are Egypt (22%), Pakistan (4.8%) and China (3.2%).
  • The main mode of transmission in these countries is attributed to unsafe injections using contaminated equipment.

  • Symptoms arrow_upward

  • Hepatitis C includes following symptoms:
    • Anxiety
    • Arthritis
    • Ascites (swelling in the stomach area)
    • Blurred Vision
    • Chills
    • Dark Urine
    • Decline in sex drive
    • Depression
    • Dizziness
    • Dry Skin
    • Edema (swelling of the hands, feet & legs)
    • Excessive Bleeding
    • Excessive gas
    • Eye or eyesight problems (blurred vision or dry eyes)
    • Fatigue
    • Fever
    • Flu-like symptoms
    • Gallstones
    • Gray, yellow, white or light colored stools
    • Headaches
    • Hepatalgia (pain or discomfort in liver area)
    • Hot flashes
    • Indigestion
    • Inflammation in the joints
    • Insomnia
    • Irritability
    • Itching
    • Jaundice (yellowing of eyes and/or skin)
    • Joint pain
    • Mood changes or swings
    • Memory loss, mental confusion
    • Menstrual problems
    • Muscle aches
    • Nausea
    • Rashes/Red spots
    • Red palms
    • Sensitivity to heat or cold
    • Sleep disturbances
    • Slow healing and recovery
    • Susceptibility to illness/flu
    • Sweating
    • Vertigo
    • Vomiting
    • Water retention
    • Weakness
    • Weight gain
    • Weight loss

    Causes arrow_upward

  • HCV is a small virus about 60 nanometers in size. It can only be seen using high power electron microscopes.
  • HCV is not related to the other viruses that cause hepatitis.
  • The virus contains nucleic acid in the form of RNA. Variations in the nucleic acid give rise to different 'genotypes' of HCV.
  • HCV reproduces ('replicates') primarily in liver cells
  • Following are the causes of HCV:
    • Sharing needles while using illegal street drugs.
    • Using non-sterile instruments and needles for tattooing and body piercing.
    • Receiving organs (such as a kidney, liver, or pancreas) from a donor who is infected with HCV.
    • Blood transfusion, which used to be a major way that HCV was spread. But today, screening tests are performed on all donated blood so this cause has almost been eliminated.
    • Sharing personal care items such as razors, scissors, nail clippers, or a toothbrush with an infected person.
    • Engaging in high-risk sexual behavior (e.g., having multiple partners or not using condoms when having sex with an infected person).

    Transmission arrow_upward

  • The virus is most commonly transmitted through exposure to infectious blood such as through:
    • Receipt of contaminated blood transfusions
    • Blood products
    • Organ transplants
    • Injections given with contaminated syringes
    • Needle-stick injuries in health-care settings
    • Injection drug use
    • Being born to an HCV-infected mother
  • It is less commonly transmitted through sex with an infected person and sharing of personal items contaminated with infectious blood.
  • Hepatitis C is not spread through breastmilk, food or water or by casual contact such as hugging, kissing and sharing food or drinks with an infected person.

  • Prevention arrow_upward

  • Currently, there is no vaccine to prevent hepatitis C infection; however, you can take steps to protect yourself from becoming infected with hepatitis C virus and to prevent passing the virus to others.
  • The centers for disease control and prevention recommends the following:
    • Don't share personal care items that might have blood on them, such as razors or toothbrushes
    • Avoid injected drugs or, for drug users, enter a treatment program
    • Never share needles, syringes, water, or "works" (equipment for intravenous drug use) and get vaccinated against hepatitis A and hepatitis B if you are a drug user
    • Consider the risks of getting tattoos or body piercings.
    • You can get infected if the tools have someone else's blood on them or if the artist or piercer does not follow good health practices
    • Don't donate blood, organs, or tissue if you have hepatitis C

    Treatment arrow_upward

  • There are no specific treatments for the symptoms of acute hepatitis C.
  • Doctors recommend bed rest, preventing dehydration, a healthy diet and avoidance of alcoholic beverages.
  • Most patients with mild to severe hepatitis C begin to feel better in two to three weeks and recover completely from their symptoms within four to eight weeks.
  • Synthetic forms of the protein interferon are used to treat some people with chronic hepatitis C.
    • This can improve liver function in some people with hepatitis and diminishes symptoms, although it may cause side effects such as headache, fever and other flu-like symptoms.
    • Sometimes this drug is used in combination with another drug, ribavirin.
    • Treatment is effective in 10 percent to 40 percent of patients.
  • Many chronic carriers remain symptom free or develop only a mild condition, chronic persistent hepatitis.
  • However, approximately 50 percent go on to develop the most serious complications of viral hepatitis: cirrhosis of the liver and liver cancer.

  • Thank You from Kimavi arrow_upward

  • Please email us at Admin@Kimavi.com and help us improve this tutorial.

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