Hepatitis is an inflammatory liver disease that causes severe damage to the liver and, in turn, the body. Hepatitis C, in particular, is quite sneaky, and by the reports of CDC, about 50% of the infected individuals remain undiagnosed as the disease doesn’t show any symptoms until later stages.
Hepatitis C is a viral disease, and there are no vaccinations for it yet. The condition can be transmitted from an infected individual to a healthy one when they come in contact with their body fluids like blood and semen.
It is documented that about 1% of the US population has contracted the disease and live as carriers if not symptomatic.
The incubation period of Hepatitis C is from 14 to 80 days after being infected. The virus remains inside the body and increases in number without any symptoms.
After the incubation period, the acute infection is 6 months of initial infection. The infection during this stage is self-limiting, and if you have a healthy, enough immune system, it can clear on its own.
Chronic Hepatitis C is when the body can’t get rid of the infection, and it lingers on longer than 6 months. If not treated in time, this chronic infection can cause severe liver damage in the form of liver cirrhosis.
Liver cirrhosis is the damage to the liver caused by repeated bouts of inflammatory responses of the body to clear out the virus from the system. It happens after chronic hepatitis stays untreated, and this damage can be irreversible.
Inflammation and scarring accumulate the damage to the liver, and over time, it develops into cancer. Liver cancer is the most fatal outcome of untreated hepatitis C as it remains undetected until later stages.
Symptoms of the damage to the liver in hepatitis C
The people who have contacted the disease might not be able to identify it until its already too late. However, the earlier symptoms may help you with the diagnosis:
- Dark urine (bilirubin infiltrates showing liver damage)
- Abdominal pain
- Decreased appetite
- Stools with clay-color
- Joint pain
The risk factors that contribute to the spread of the disease are:
- Blood transfusion
- Needle prick injury of a used needle
- Getting a tattoo
- Shared personal amenities like a toothbrush and shaving blade
- HIV infected
- Having unprotected sex with multiple partners
The disease is confirmed by an antibody test that detects anti-Hepatitis C virus antibodies (HCV antibodies). It’s a simple blood test that can be done in a few hours.
A liver biopsy might be necessary if your doctor suspects severe liver damage or cancer.
Hepatitis C is a curable disease, given that the liver damage has not exceeded to the point of no return. Antiviral medications have proven to cure the disease quite wholly and efficiently.
Some home remedies like milk thistle, castor oil, and N-acetyl Cysteine can be used to boost immunity and control the damage to the liver.