Excellence in Medical Care for Fremont Patients
Hepatitis C is a serious infection that is caused by a virus. The virus
is spread through contact with the blood of an individual who has hepatitis
C. Common causes include sharing needles—whether for medical purposes
or use of intravenous drugs—or from contact with tattoo equipment
that is not sterile.
There are two “types” of hepatitis C:
- Acute hepatitis C virus infection; a short-term illness that occurs after
exposure to the hepatitis C virus and may lead to chronic infection
- Chronic hepatitis C virus infection; a long-term illness caused by the
virus remaining in the individual’s body, and possibly leading to
cirrhosis of the liver, liver cancer, and other liver problems
What Are the Symptoms of Hepatitis C?
While most people who contract the virus do not exhibit symptoms, some
do. In these cases, symptoms may include feelings of exhaustion, loss
of hunger, jaundice / yellow eyes and skin, and nausea. Hepatitis C, like
hepatitis B, begins as an acute infection, but for some the virus stays in the body
and can cause chronic disease and serious liver damage. Every year, about
19,000 people die from liver diseases related to hepatitis C. This disease
is the current leading cause of liver cancer, liver transplantation, and
cirrhosis of the liver in the United States.
Can Hepatitis C Be Treated? Is There a Vaccine?
Both acute and chronic hepatitis C can be treated using the same medications.
Treating acute hepatitis C lowers the person’s risk of getting a
chronic infection. Antiviral medications may be used to treat both acute
and chronic hepatitis C, with new medications available that are proven
to be even more effective and with less side effects than the treatments
that were once used. Between 15% and 25% of people who contract hepatitis
C are able to recover without treatment and do not develop chronic infections.
There are currently no vaccines available to prevent hepatitis C.