The liver can get severely damaged due to an infection caused by the hepatitis C virus and the disease is called hepatitis C. The virus spreads through the blood or body fluids of an infected person.
Nearly 3.9 million people in the country have been affected by this disease. There are no early warning signs of hepatitis C. Its symptoms are not visible until it becomes evident, hence many people do not recognize the condition in its initial stages.
Symptoms of acute hepatitis C
When a person has been infected with hepatitis virus for a long time, it is called chronic hepatitis C. Because of no early warning signs of hepatitis C, the virus remains silent for years till it has damaged the liver irrevocably. The symptoms of acute hepatitis appear 1 to 3 months after infection and remain for 2 weeks to 3 months. The symptoms of acute hepatitis C include:
- Jaundice, in some cases
- Discomfort in the abdomen
- Pain in the joints
- Clay-colored stool, in some cases
These symptoms can easily be construed as symptoms of any viral fever. That is why acute hepatitis C is rarely diagnosed. However, this can escalate into chronic hepatitis C where fatal symptoms will develop.
Symptoms of chronic hepatitis C
Chronic hepatitis C develops when the virus still remains in the body after it has been exposed to the body for six months. Even the chronic stage will not present any early warning signs of hepatitis C in most people. It is pertinent to note that every acute Hepatitis C will not become chronic and some will respond well to medication as well. However, in some people symptoms for chronic hepatitis C may be:
- Continuous periods of abdominal pain
- Persistent fatigue
- A continuous ache in the joints
- Bleeding easily
- Bruising easily
- Loss of appetite
- Dark-colored urine
- Fluid buildup in the abdomen
- Swelling in the legs
- Unexplained weight loss
- Itchy skin
- Drowsiness, confusion, and slurred speech
- Spider-like blood vessels on the skin
The chronic infection will potentially result in fibrosis of the liver, which can progress to cirrhosis or liver failure or may progress to liver cancer.
Causes of hepatitis C
The hepatitis C is primarily caused by the hepatitis virus C. Viruses remain dormant until they enter any living cell. They replicate themselves and the infection will spread through the blood within the entire body. A person can get infected with the transmission of the virus through the blood to blood contact. For this to happen, the blood from an infected person must enter the body of a healthy uninfected person.
Hepatitis C cannot be transmitted by casual touch, sharing food, mosquito bites, kissing, respiratory droplets or surface contact. However, even a microscopic droplet of blood will contain millions of virus particles that cannot be destroyed. An infection is possible even if there has been one tiny exposure to the virus.
Here are the potential causes that can be considered as early warning signs of hepatitis C because they increase the risk of Hepatitis C:
- Sharing needles with an infected person
- Sharing infected injections
- Long term hemodialysis
- Exposure to needle stick (people who work in the health care sector)
- Getting a tattoo in unregulated environment
- Unprotected sex with an intravenous substance user
- Long term alcohol use
- Unexplained liver disease
- Snorting drugs
- Blood transfusion before 1990
Any person who experiences the above-mentioned signs and symptoms and is prone to developing illnesses should go in for a regular screening of hepatitis virus C as the symptoms do not present any early warning signs of hepatitis C.