Hepatitis C is a type of viral infection of the liver that’s caused by hepatitis C virus. It spreads via exposure to infected blood containing the virus. Its severity can vary from being a mild illness that persists for a few weeks or it can be a life-threatening illness. About 71 million people suffer from chronic hepatitis infection. If left untreated it can progress to liver cirrhosis or cancer.
Ways You Can Get A Hepatitis C Infection
You are more likely to contract a hepatitis C infection if an infected person’s blood has entered your bloodstream. Following are the common causes.1
- Sharing drugs and needles which is common among IV drug users.
- Having rough sex with multiple partners or partners with an STD or an HIV or hepatitis infection.
- Suffering needle injury from an infected needle.
- Using an infected person’s razor, toothbrush, or nail clippers.
- Getting piercings or tattoos done with unsterile equipment.
- Transmission from the mother to newborn during vaginal delivery.
- Transfusion of unscreened blood and its products.
Ways You Can’t Get A Hepatitis C Infection
To reduce the stigma attached to the diagnosis of a hepatitis infection, it’s important that your caution about preventing the disease doesn’t come across as isolation of the infected person. You are not going to get a Hepatitis C infection from doing the following.2
- Being coughed or sneezed on by an infected person
- Drinking water or eating food
- Hugging an infected person
- Shaking or holding hands with an infected person
- Sharing spoons, forks, and other utensils
- Sitting next to an infected person
A baby being breastfed by an infected mother also cannot get hepatitis C from breast milk.
Signs Of A Hepatitis C Infection
The infection could most often be asymptomatic. When any of the following present as symptoms, it’s important that you meet a doctor immediately.
- Jaundiced appearance of the eyes and skin
- Pain the abdomen
- Loss of appetite
- Nausea and vomiting
- Dark colored urine despite drinking adequate water.
- Clay or gray-colored stools
- Pain the joints.
Complications Of Hepatitis C
In a large majority of people who are diagnosed with the infection develop liver cirrhosis which affects liver functioning due to impaired blood flow. Progressive liver failure develops gradually. Liver cancer, hepatocellular carcinoma, can occur in conditions where liver damage has resulted from chronic hepatitis C.
Management Of Hepatitis C
Your doctor will advise getting some blood reports done to confirm the presence of an infection. The test usually performed include the following.3
This blood test determines the presence of antibodies that against hepatitis C virus in your body. However, a positive test result only means that you have been infected at some point but that doesn’t mean you are currently infected. A PCR test is the best way to confirm whether you are harboring the virus now.
The PCR blood test checks if the virus is still active inside your body. A positive result means you are infected and need to be treated immediately.
Hepatitis C RNA Test
This test determines whether you have the virus and if yes, how much is present in your blood.
This test determines what type of hepatitis C virus is causing the infection in your body.
Antiviral drugs are usually prescribed for controlling the infection. But, these drugs cannot cure you of hepatitis C completely.
Living With Hepatitis C
A holistic change in lifestyle is required to maintain your wellbeing despite a hepatitis C infection. Here are simple tips you can follow.
- Be regular with your medical visits to keep a tab on your liver health.
- Avoid fried, junk and processed foods as your liver will find it hard to digest the high amount of fats, salts, and sugars in them.
- Have a diet rich in lean proteins, colorful fruits and vegetables and whole grains.
- Choose healthy fats like coconut oil, olive oil for cooking but in moderation.
- You should maintain fluid intake by having plenty of water and herbal teas.
- Don’t consume alcohol in any form.
- Exercise daily and practice relaxation techniques.
Awareness plays an important role in leading a productive life with hepatitis C. Caregivers and loved ones should be compassionate in their approach towards infected people to make things easier for them too.