An Explanation of Hepatitis C
According to the Mayo Clinic, hepatitis C is an infection caused by a virus that attacks the liver. The virus is caused by contact through contaminated blood, most commonly by sharing needles in drug use. There are several hepatitis viruses and hepatitis C is considered to be the most serious of these viruses.
Diagnosis and symptoms:
- According to PublicMed Health, causes of hepatitis C include, but aren’t limited to, getting tattoos from dirty needles, unprotected sexual contact with someone who has it, being born to a mom with it, drug use, long-term kidney dialysis, and being in regular contact with blood at work.
- Most people infected with the hepatitis C virus (HCV) have no symptoms, and most don't know they have the nfection until liver damage shows up during routine medical tests.
- Symptoms to look for are: abdominal pain/swelling, dark urine, fatigue, fever, itching, jaundice, and loss of appetite, nausea, and vomiting.
- The symptoms usually don’t show until after cirrhosis of the liver, which is after a person has had hepatitis C for a while.
- Cirrhosis is the scarring of the liver; it happens after infections like hepatitis C has been present for a while.
Tests for Hepatitis C
- After a doctor has diagnosed hepatitis C, they perform two tests: a blood test to confirm the diagnosis and a genetic test to find out which genotype of hepatitis C the patient has.
- Doctors perform three tests to determine the level of liver damage: Albumin level, liver function tests, and Prothrombin time (tests how long it takes for blood to clot).
- Doctors also perform liver biopsies to determine how much damage has been done to the liver.
New Treatment for Hepatitis C Leads to Health Issues and One Death
A new break-through treatment for hepatitis C, BMS-986094, had to halt its trials after it was found to cause heart and liver damage. It also caused at least one fatality.
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