What is Hepatitis C?
Hepatitis C is a viral infection that causes liver inflammation and can cause liver damage. You can contract the virus when the blood of a person who has the virus enters your bloodstream. You are at greater risk of getting the infection if you are a healthcare worker, have injected drugs and shared needles, have HIV, have gotten a tattoo or piercing using unsterile equipment, received a blood transfusion before 1992, received blood clotting factor concentrates before 1987, or were born between 1945 and 1965, which is the age group that has the highest incidence of hepatitis C infection. Many people who have chronic hepatitis C don’t know it because it can take decades between the time you are infected and when the symptoms appear.
Chronic hepatitis C starts as an acute infection. It may go away on its own or it may respond to anti-viral medications. If it doesn’t, the infection becomes chronic. Today, chronic hepatitis C can be treated with medications. If it’s not treated, you may develop liver disease and other complications.
What are the Symptoms of Hepatitis C?
Common signs and symptoms of chronic hepatitis C include:
- Bleeding easily
- Bruising easily
- Poor appetite
- Yellow discoloration of the skin and eyes (jaundice)
- Dark-colored urine
- Itchy skin
- Fluid buildup in your abdomen (ascites)
- Swelling in your legs
- Weight loss
- Confusion, drowsiness and slurred speech
- Spider-like blood vessels on your skin
Acute hepatitis C usually has no symptoms, which is why you may not be diagnosed. If you do have symptoms, they may include jaundice, fatigue, nausea, fever, and muscle aches. They appear one to three months after exposure to the virus and typically last two weeks to three months.
If you are experiencing the signs or symptoms of acute or chronic hepatitis C, schedule an appointment with Digestive Health Associates of Cheyenne. One of our providers will evaluate your condition, use a blood test to screen you for the virus, and talk with you about the best treatment options.
How Do You Treat Hepatitis C?
If your blood test comes back positive for hepatitis C, your doctor may run other tests to determine how much of the virus is in your blood and what type of the virus you have: genotype 1 or 2. That will help determine the best treatment for you. Anti-viral medications will remove the virus from your body. If the virus has severely damaged your liver, your doctor may consider a liver transplant for you.
Our board-certified, experienced physicians at Digestive Health Associates of Cheyenne will provide you with the best diagnosis and treatment options for hepatitis C. Contact us today.
Learn More: Hepatitis C
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