The HCV or hepatitis C virus is a major problem that affects the human liver. Those who are affected by it once will be continually affected by it for the rest of their lives because it defies the body’s immune defense system. The liver gets inflamed once this virus sets in and can lead to fibrosis and later cirrhosis. The greatest danger is that it can lead to liver cancer or a liver transplant may be required. In the USA alone there are about 10 million people who carry the virus because it wasn’t detected as a threat till quite late in the 1980s.
Mainly, hepatitis C spreads through contact with blood that is infected, which may be through sharing needles to inject or straws to inhale drugs; receiving a blood transfusion or organ that is infected by HCV; being inadvertently in contact with an HCV-infected needle; using toothbrushes or razors that may have HCV-infected blood on them; getting a tattoo or acupuncture with unsterilized paraphernalia; or being in constant physical or sexual contact with HCV-infected patients. A woman with the virus can also pass it on to her baby at the time of delivery.
After the first exposure to HCV it can be detected in the blood within a week or two, but unfortunately since there will be no visible symptoms initially diagnosis takes place very late. Some people will have the virus cleared out of their systems within two months but most people affected by the virus will go on to develop chronic hepatitis C. This is when the symptoms will manifest themselves. Weakness and loss of appetite, nausea and abdominal pain, and jaundice are what you should look out for.
If the disease has reached a chronic stage then the liver will fail progressively and there will be a higher risk of developing cirrhosis of the liver and liver cancer. If you suspect that you have hepatitis C because of the risk factors mentioned above, see a physician and give him your medical history. You will have to have blood tests or a liver biopsy to determine if you have been affected. You will be put on medications to treat the virus but the infection may not clear up for under a year.
Be aware of the dangers of hepatitis C and take care to not use needles used by others or other personal hygiene materials. Be careful during blood transfusions and do not handle objects that may be HCV infected. And if you are already infected tell your physician or dentist before undergoing treatment and don’t donate blood or organs.
Hepatitis C is an invisible danger to your health. Protect yourself.