What is hepatitis C?
The HCV virus infects the liver and leads to its inflammation. Hep C can manifest in a variety of ways, ranging from a mild illness lasting a few weeks to a serious, lifelong illness. Thus, Hep C is divided into two broad categories: “acute,” meaning a new infection and “chronic,” meaning a potentially lifelong infection.
- Acute Hep C occurs within the first six months of HCV infection. Around 50% of acute cases progress to a long-term “chronic” stage.
- Chronic Hep C refers to the long-term persistence of Hep C disease and can be a lifelong infection if left untreated. Without proper treatment chronic Hep C can cause serious health problems, including:
- Liver damage
- Cirrhosis (scarring of the liver)
- Liver cancer
What are the symptoms of hep C?
Initial symptoms of hep C are often outside the liver, including:
Symptoms typical of liver involvement are:
- Mental changes
- Loss of appetite
- Ankle swelling
- Distended abdomen
- Pain abdomen
- Vomiting blood
- Dark, tarry stools
- Dark urine
- Jaundice (yellowish skin or eyes)
- Easy bruising and bleeding
How dangerous is Hep C?
Hep C, specifically chronic Hep C, can be a serious disease. It can lead to long-term health issues, including liver damage, liver failure, liver cancer, or even death. Hep C is a major cause of cirrhosis (scarring of the liver) and liver cancer.
This makes it the most common reason for liver transplant in the United States. In 2016, CDC reported over 1,800 deaths related to the HCV. Nevertheless, the actual deaths due to Hep C are believed to be far more in number because not all people are tested for the virus.
How do you get Hep C?
You can acquire Hep C if you receive blood from a person infected with HCV. Before 1992, when blood screening for HCV infection was not available, Hep C spread through blood transfusion and organ donation. This is not the case now due to widespread screening of blood donors in the United States. However, one can still get Hep C in the following situations:
- Sharing needles and syringes
- Needlestick injury in healthcare or other settings
- Baby born to a mother with Hep C
- Contaminated instruments like colonoscope, via dialysis or during surgery
- Sexual contact with an infected person
- Sharing razors with an infected person
- Getting a tattoo or body piercing in an unregulated setting
Is there a treatment for Hep C?
Acute Hep C: There is no recommended treatment for acute Hep C. Infected people should be followed by a doctor and only considered for treatment if the infection persists.
Chronic Hep C: There are now many treatment options available for Hep C. The following drug combinations are currently used:
- Ledipasvir/sofosbuvir (Harvoni)
- Elbasvir/grazoprevir (Zepatier)
- Ombitasvir/paritaprevir/ritonavir/dasabuvir (Viekira Pak)
- Ombitasvir/paritaprevir/ritonavir (Technivie)
- Glecaprevir/pibrentasvir (Mavyret)
- Sofosbuvir/velpatasvir/voxilaprevir (Vosevi)
- Sofosbuvir/velpatasvir (Epclusa)
Can I get vaccinated against Hep C?
Unfortunately, no vaccine is available to protect from Hep C infection. So, avoiding the risks is the only protection against Hep C.
- Baby Boys 'Talk' More During First Year Compared to Girls
- U.S. Teen Birth Rate Hits Another Historic Low
- Cancer Survivors Who Keep Smoking Have Double the Risk for Heart-Related Death
- Need a Prostate Exam? Here's What to Expect
- Prostatitis: What It Is, Symptoms, Causes & Treatment
- More Health News »
Health Solutions From Our Sponsors
Hepatitis C Questions and Answers for Health Professionals
Top How Dangerous Is Hep C Related Articles
Hepatitis C (HCV, Hep C)Hepatitis C is an inflammation of the liver due to the hepatitis C virus (HCV), which is usually spread by blood transfusion, hemodialysis, and needle sticks, especially with intravenous drug abuse. Symptoms of chronic hepatitis include fatigue, fever, muscle aches, loss of appetite, and fever. Chronic hepatitis C may be cured in most individuals with drugs that target specific genomes of hepatitis C.
Hepatitis C Cure (Symptoms, Transmission, Treatments, and Cost)
Hepatitis is inflammation of the liver. There are a variety of toxins, diseases, illicit drugs, medications, bacterial and viral infections, and heavy alcohol use can case inflammation of the liver. Hepatitis C viral infection (HCV) is one type of hepatitis. According to the CDC, in 2014 there were an estimated 30,500 cases of acute hepatitis C infections in the US. An estimated 2.7-3.9 million people in the US have chronic hepatitis C. The virus is spread from person-to-person via blood-to-blood contact.
Symptoms of HCV infection include joint pain, jaundice, dark urine, nausea, fatigue, fever, loss of appetites, clay colored stool. Hepatitis C can be cured with medications in most people. There is no vaccine against the hepatitis C virus.
Hepatitis C SlideshowWhat is hepatitis C (Hep C, HVC)? Learn about hepatitis C symptoms, how you get Hep C, contagiousness, and treatment for hepatitis C.
Hepatitis C QuizHow many Americans have hepatitis C? Take this quiz to learn the facts about this chronic disease.
What Is Viral Hepatitis? How You Catch Hepatitis A, B, and CHepatitis C virus and hepatitis B can make an infected person very sick and they are risk factors for liver cancer, liver disease, liver failure, and liver damage. Prior to 1992, blood transfusion was a risk for contracting hepatitis C infection. Hepatitis B and C are blood-borne infections, while hepatitis A is easier to catch, but less serious.
How Long Can a Person Live after Being Diagnosed with Hep C?Hepatitis C is a virus that affects the liver. Hepatitis C used to be difficult to treat and often resulted in the loss of life, but there are greater chances of curing or managing this condition thanks to modern medicine and research.
How Long Can a Person Live After Being Diagnosed With Hepatitis C (Hep C)?Hepatitis C is a virus that causes inflammation of the liver. The impact of hepatitis C on lifespan is dependent on how the disease progresses and the effectiveness of timely treatment.
Is Hepatitis C Contagious?Hepatitis C or hep C causes acute and chronic liver disease. Hep C is a form of liver disease with symptoms like fatigue, jaundice, nausea and vomiting, anorexia, and abdominal discomfort. Hepatitis C is a contagious viral infection caused by people sharing drug needles, surgical instruments that have not been properly sanitized, and organ transplantation.
What Are the Chances of Getting Hep C Sexually?Hepatitis C spreads by contact with an infected person’s blood. Although uncommon, hepatitis C can be transmitted through sexual activity, if the person has genital sores and cuts. It can also be transmitted during menstruation. However, just 2% of hepatitis C cases are sexually transmitted.
What Causes Hepatitis?Hepatitis is inflammation of the liver. It can occur due to a variety of factors, but the most common cause is a virus infection. The types of hepatitis are hepatitis A, B, C, D, and E. Hepatitis can be acute (short-term) or chronic (long-term) and can have fatal complications. Early diagnosis, treatment and lifestyle modification can slow or inhibit the progression of the disease and reduce complications.
What Type of Drug Is Ombitasvir?Ombitasvir is a direct-acting antiviral drug that is used to treat hepatitis C. The medication acts as a hepatitis C virus inhibitor and is a dipeptide derivative. It is mostly used as a combination drug containing dasabuvir sodium dihydrate, paritaprevir, and ritonavir under the trade name Viekira Pak, which is FDA-approved. Ombitasvir works by inhibiting the NS5A protein, which helps in the replication of the hepatitis C virus.