Referred to as the ”silent epidemic,” hepatitis C is one of three hepatitis viruses that can lead to liver failure and silently disrupt the proper functioning of this vital organ. It does not show any blatant symptoms of infection in its early stages, but by the time people experience symptoms of Hepatitis C, they already have a progressive liver disease.
According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC), about 3.5 million of the population in the United States may be affected by chronic hepatitis C, but not everyone will develop a chronic infection. Approximately 30 percent possess a powerful immune response to defend the infection.
Read on to learn more about the Hepatitis C disease.
What Are the Symptoms of Hepatitis C?
Hepatitis C has numerous symptoms and can occasionally be confused with the cold or flu, unless jaundice is noticed. A few of the most common symptoms include:
- Extreme fatigue
- Joint pain
- Stomach pain
- Poor appetite
- Sore muscles
- Dark or orange urine
- Yellowing of the skin and eyes
A person may have the Hepatitis C virus for many years and not even realize it. There may be no symptoms in the beginning, but as they begin to appear, the skin and whites of the eyes may appear yellow or jaundiced.
How Is Hepatitis C Spread?
Hepatitis C disease is spread through blood to blood contact. Intravenous drug users who share needles or healthcare workers, who are exposed to the blood of a patient without wearing gloves, protective eye-wear, or face masks, are all at risk. Hepatitis C can also be spread through intimate contact. Individuals who have unprotected intercourse with multiple partners are also at an increased risk.
Hepatitis C cannot be spread through tears, sneezing, coughing, kissing, casual contact, or sharing a cup/eating utensils. Hepatitis C is transmitted in much the same way as HIV. Proper precautions should always be taken, especially if you don't know whether or not your partner has Hepatitis C.
What Are Your Treatment Options?
Although all the three hepatitis viruses A, B, and C, cause liver disease, Hepatitis C is the one that cannot be prevented through vaccines. However, there are several treatment options available for the Hepatitis C disease. In some cases, the body may be able to fight off the virus on its own. If a person has tested positive for Hep C in the past, but tests negative for Hep C at a later date, the virus has run its course and is no longer an issue.