Hepatitis C is a virus that attacks the liver, causing inflammation. Most people do not know when they are infected with Hepatitis C, as there are no immediate symptoms indicating infection or illness. Over time, Hepatitis C can lead to scarring of the liver, cirrhosis of the liver, liver cancer and liver failure. Most people discover they have hepatitis C through routine medical tests, and may go years with the disease without any symptoms. Most people don’t realize they have Hepatitis C until years or even decades after they’ve been infected, when liver damage appears. Though Hepatitis C can be serious, most patients can lead healthy and active lives while managing the disease.
Causes of Infection
Hepatitis C is transmitted through contact with an infected person’s blood. It is primarily transmitted through activities such as intravenous drug use with shared needles, poorly sterilized equipment and blood transfusions. Here are a couple other possible scenarios:
- You get a tattoo with an infected needle. This happens in shops where equipment isn’t cleaned properly.
- You had a blood transfusion or organ transplant before 1992. As of 1992, all organs and blood that are donated are checked for Hepatitis C.
- In rare cases, a mother with Hepatitis C may transfer it to her child.
- You receive a shot that has infected blood on it. This happens most frequently in developing countries, where needles are used multiple times between cleanings.
Please note: you CANNOT receive Hepatitis C through normal activities such as hugging, kissing, coughing or touching someone with the virus. Hepatitis C is only transmitted through blood-to-blood contact.
Acute symptoms only show up in about 15% of the patients diagnosed with Hepatitis C. These symptoms include:
- Severe Fatigue
- Joint Pain
- Belly Pain
- Itchy Skin
- Sore Muscles
- Dark Urine
- Yellowish Eyes & skin
Your first step is to determine whether you have Hepatitis C and the severity of the symptoms. If you think you have Hepatitis C or are concerned about it, contact GI Associates to set up an appointment for consultation or diagnosis. Our physicians specialize in the treatment and management of Hepatitis C, and can help you lead the highest quality life possible. There are medicines that can be used to treat the disease based on the acuteness of your symptoms, and our qualified physicians will work with you to discuss your options after a thorough examination and diagnosis.