Hepatitis C – Causes and Symptoms of Hepatitis C
Hepatitis C is an inflammation of the liver caused by the infection with hepatitis C virus. It usually produces no symptoms and in some cases the virus cannot be detected until the liver begins to get damaged. It is the serious type of hepatitis infections and is mainly spread by infected blood and other body fluids through direct personal contact.
It is estimated that about 15-20% of people are affected with acute infection and 75% people are affected with chronic infection.
Causes of Hepatitis C
Hepatitis C is caused by type C hepatitis virus. The virus mainly spreads when you come in direct contact with the contaminated blood and body fluids.
The virus can be transmitted through the following ways:
- Sharing needles among illicit drug users
- Organ transplantation and blood transfusion
- Pregnant women infected with hepatitis C virus transmit it to the infants after birth
- Having sex with an infected person
- Getting an accidental needle stick with a needle that was used on an infected person
The following are the risk factors that increase the risk of hepatitis C:
- Received hemodialysis treatments for long periods
- Received clotting factor concentrates
- Received organ transplants and blood transfusion
- Received tattooing and body piercing in an unsterilized equipment
- HIV positive
- Illicit drug users
Symptoms of Hepatitis C
In the earlier stages of hepatitis C infection, the virus produces no symptoms. As the infection develops, the following signs and symptoms increase gradually.
- Spider-like blood vessels on the skin
- Difficulty in blood clotting
- Rash on the palms
- Breast enlargement in men
- Weight loss
- Loss of appetite
- Tenderness in the area of liver
- Joint and muscle pains
- Stools become dark in color
- Dark colored urine
- Yellowing of the skin and eye whites
Diagnosis of Hepatitis C
Your doctor diagnoses hepatitis C by performing blood tests. If chronic hepatitis C is suspected, the doctor suggests you get a liver biopsy done. In this liver biopsy test, the doctor uses a needle to remove a tiny piece of liver and examines it under a microscope to check for liver damage.