28th JULY 2017
What is Hepatitis C
Hepatitis C is a virus that is transmitted by blood exposure such as unsafe injection practices in medical treatments (usually in developing nations), injecting drug use and less commonly through sexual activity. Some people will spontaneously clear the virus, but most people (55-85%) will develop chronic Hepatitis C infection.
What are the symptoms of Hepatitis C?
A minority of people present in the acute stage with symptoms such as fatigue, joint pain and jaundice but the vast majority of people will be asymptomatic. Despite most people being unaware they have the infection, a small number of people will eventually go on to develop liver cancer and cirrhosis. In fact there is evidence that the number of Hepatitis C related deaths now exceeds the number of HIV/AIDS related deaths in the US.
Some of the other symptoms can include joint problems, skin complications, and peripheral neuropathy where a loss of sensation in the feet can make it more difficult to walk.
Can Hepatitis C be treated?
Recent drug developments have transformed the treatment for Hepatitis C. These new antivirals can clear the virus from the bloodstream and reduce the chance of liver changes and long term liver disease. However, as with most diseases starting the appropriate treatment at an early stage will result in the best outcome.
What should people with Hepatitis C infection do!
- Avoid alcohol which already taxes the liver. There is evidence that people with Hepatitis C infection who drink moderately or heavily may go on to develop liver cirrhosis more quickly.
- Maintain an ideal body weight as being overweight increases the strain on the liver
- Avoid HIV via safe sex and avoid Hepatitis A or B through vaccinations