Hepatitis C is a liver disease caused by the hepatitis C virus (HCV) than can cause both acute and chronic hepatitis, ranging in severity from a mild illness - lasting a few weeks to a serious – lifelong illness
HCV Infection usually has no symptoms or very mild symptoms during the early stages, many people do not know they have it until liver damage shows up.
The incubation period for hepatitis C is 2 weeks to 6 months. Following the initial infection, people usually do not experience any symptoms. Acute symptomatic are fever, sore muscle, fatigue, poor appetite, nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain, dark urine, grey-colouredfaeces, joint point and jaundice (yellowing of skin and the whites of the eyes)
Who is at High Risk?
The high risk of HCV infection will increase with following:
- Had tattoos or body piercings using unsterile equipment
- Worked in a place that contact with infected blood or needles such as healthcare workers
- Had hemodialysis for a long period of time
- Were born to a mother with HCV
- Had unprotected sex with multiple partners
- Had a sexually transmitted disease
- HIV positive
If you have an active hepatitis C infection, you will be referred to a specialist for further tests to check if your liver has been damaged. You may do blood test to measure certain enzymes and proteins in your bloodstream that indicate whether your liver is damaged or inflamed – Ultrasound scan will determine how damaged your liver is.
Hepatitis C does not always require treatment as the immune response in some people will clear the infection, and some people with chronic infection do not develop liver damage. When treatment is necessary, the goal of hepatitis C treatment is cure. The cure rate depends on several factors including the strain of the virus and the type of treatment given.
If you receive a diagnosis of hepatitis C, your doctor will likely recommend certain lifestyle changes. These measures will help keep you healthy longer and protect the health of others as well:
Stop drinking alcohol
Alcohol speeds the progression of liver disease
Avoid medications that may cause liver damage
Review your medications with your doctor, including over-the-counter medications you take as well as herbal preparations and dietary supplements
Help prevent others from coming in contact with your blood
Do not donate blood, body organs or semen, and advise health care workers that you have the virus.