What is Hepatitis C?
Hepatitis C is a liver disease that is caused by the Hepatitis C virus. During the early phase of the infection, also known as the acute Hepatitis C, the virus invades the liver and replicates rapidly. The immune system attacks the inflamed liver cells, which further leads to the inflammation of the organ. The infection is difficult to detect at this stage, but easier to cure. After around 6 months of infection, the Hepatitis C enters the chronic stage and becomes severe. The scar tissue formed in the liver prevents it from working properly and in extreme cases, it can lead to liver cancer, complete loss of liver function and eventually, death. According to an estimate by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 2.7 million people in America suffer from chronic Hepatitis C.
What are the most common symptoms of the disease?
Hepatitis C is a silent disease. It does not make its presence known without proper testing. Most infected people are not even aware that they have been suffering from the deadly disease. In the early stages of the disease, some symptoms may appear in people. But, they appear more like a flu. The patient feels fatigue, loss of appetite, and even jaundice, during which the skin and the eyes appear yellow. The disease becomes even trickier to nab when it enters the chronic stage. The nonchalant virus does not cause any physical manifestations, until it has caused some major liver damage. At the advanced stage, the infected individual may suffer from chronic aches in the stomach, weight loss, bone pain and other symptoms of liver damage.
What are the different modes by which Hepatitis C can be transmitted?
If you have Hepatitis C, it means that the virus entered your body when you came in contact with the body fluids, such as blood, of an infected individual. It spreads by sharing of needles and syringes, or by having sexual intercourse with an infected individual. Since it is a communicable disease, it can also spread through the use of contaminated personal care items such as razors or toothbrushes. An expecting mother can also pass on the virus to her baby at the time of birth.
What are the clinical tests that are available for detection of Hepatitis C?
When the Hepatitis C virus enters the body, the immune system produces antibodies to contain the foreign antigen. The clinical tests that detect Hepatitis C look for these antibodies. The Hepatitis C Enzyme Immunoassay is a simple blood test. The sample from the patient is tested for the presence of the Hepatitis C antibodies. The test is highly sensitive and can detect the infection within 8-9 weeks of the initial infection. This test is also FDA-approved.
Which test centers are equipped to perform the clinical test for Hepatitis C?
There are many test centers across America that can perform the Hepatitis C Enzyme Immunoassay. Since it is a highly sensitive test, it is important that the results are highly accurate. STDCheck.com provides a list of some of the most trusted test centers for running this test. More assistance regarding the test center and information on the testing procedure can be sought by directly getting in touch with us.
Is it possible to be cured of Hepatitis C completely?
Hepatitis C is absolutely curable if it is detected at the acute stage of the disease. At this stage, the disease may even subside on its own without any medication. But, that is a matter of pure chance. At the chronic stage of the disease, it is possible to manage the ailment by undergoing proper and continuous antiviral treatment as directed by a doctor.
Will there be any problems if I do not get treated for Hepatitis C?
This disease is indeed a silent killer. Clinical testing is the only way in which the infection can be revealed. In case it is not diagnosed or left untreated, it can lead to complications of the liver, including cirrhosis, liver failure, liver cancer and even death. As of now, there are also no vaccines available for Hepatitis C to keep the disease at bay.
Is there a way I can prevent a Hepatitis C infection?
Since the disease is caused by the exchange of bodily fluids, makes sure that you know the medical history of your sexual partner or in the least, use dental dams and condoms. Also, make sure you do not share your personal hygiene items with everyone, especially with people who are infected or are at a high risk of contracting it.