Symptoms Associated with Hepatitis C
Hepatitis C is an infectious disease which will attack the patient’s liver and can cause further complications in the long-run. If people come into direct contact with the hepatitis C virus (HCV), they will become infected. Unfortunately, many patients could be living with this disease and not even know it. Hepatitis C does not usually produce any signs or symptoms during its earliest stages, but treatment for this infectious disease should start as soon as possible.
Many cases of hepatitis C are asymptomatic, which means that they present no discernible symptoms. This can lead to complications in the future, as people can live for years, even decades, with this infectious disease before it is diagnosed. Luckily, through new clinical trials for hepatitis C, we can develop better ways to prevent this disease.
There are actually several diseases which are caused by hepatitis viruses, but most doctors believe that hepatitis C is the most severe. The disease is primarily contracted through direct contact with blood that has been contaminated with HCV. In fact, many cases of hepatitis C are the result of people sharing needles in order to inject drugs.
Acute Symptoms of Hepatitis C
In about 15% of cases, patients will experience some acute symptoms due to hepatitis C. Because these symptoms tend to be mild and flu-like, people are quick to overlook them as not serious. Some of the signs and symptoms associated with hepatitis C include:
- Loss of Appetite
- Abnormal weigh loss
- Muscle and joint pain
- Tenderness around the liver
- Jaundice, which is a condition that causes the skin and whites of the eyes to take on a yellowish sheen.
Hepatitis C does attack the patient’s liver and this can cause severe damage overtime if not treated. Since many cases are not diagnosed until years after the initial infection, hepatitis C has become the leading cause of liver cirrhosis and liver transplants. Those who develop chronic hepatitis C have a much higher risk of suffering from liver cirrhosis over a 30 year period. The risk of liver cirrhosis is higher for any following groups:
- Hep C patients who are co-infected with hep B or HIV
In some cases, a routine check-up can result in the unexpected diagnosis of hepatitis C and liver cirrhosis. If a patient does have cirrhosis of the liver, then they could also wind up developing a hepatocellular carcinoma in the near future. This risk goes up exponentially if the patient in question also happens to be an alcoholic. If you have been diagnosed with hepatitis C, then it is strongly advised that you limit your alcohol intake. Cirrhosis of the liver can cause a whole host of other medical complications including:
- Enlarged veins
- Easy bruising or bleeding
- Portal hypertension
- Accumulation of fluid in the abdomen (hydroperitoneum)
- Commonly requires a liver transplant
- Can cause a syndrome of cognitive impairment known as hepatic encephalopathy
If you believe that you or a loved one could be experiencing any of the above symptoms, or any related issues, please do not hesitate to get in touch with your doctor right away. The worst thing that you can do for hepatitis C is to ignore it.