Hepatitis C: All that you need to know about the silent killer

By Salome Phelamei | Last Updated: Tuesday, December 10, 2013 - 14:26

Zee Media Bureau/Salome Phelamei

Hepatitis is an infectious liver disease caused by the hepatitis C virus (HCV). Its severity ranges from a mild illness lasting a few weeks to a serious lifelong sickness. According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), about 150 million people are chronically infected with hepatitis C virus, and more than 350,000 people die yearly from hepatitis C-related liver diseases.

How Hepatitis C spreads?

Of the several hepatitis viruses, hepatitis C is believed to be among the most serious. Hepatitis C is transmitted through contact with infected blood. It can also be contracted through:

Sharing drugs and needles

Having unprotected sex with an infected person

From mother to baby during child birth

What are the signs and symptoms of Hepatitis C?

Generally, hepatitis C shows no signs and symptoms during initial stages. If signs and symptoms do happen, they may include:

Fever

Fatigue

Nausea

Vomiting

Abdominal pain

Loss of appetite

Joint pain and jaundice

How can it be treated?

While hepatitis C can be treated using antiviral medicines, treatment is not always essential. Before undertaking any treatment, careful screening is vital for the patients to find out the most appropriate approach.

Interferon and ribavirin are used to treat Hepatitis C. Owing to scientific advancement, new antiviral drugs for hepatitis C have been developed, which may be more effective and better tolerated than existing therapies. As per the WHO, two new therapeutic agents — telaprevir and boceprevir — have recently been licensed in some countries.

Can Hepatitis C be prevented?

Currently, there is no vaccine for hepatitis C. But, the risk of infection can be reduced by following a few tips:

Avoid sharing personal care items like razors

Be cautious if you are getting a tattoo or body piercing, check if the apparatus being used is clean

Avoid having sex with hepatitis C-infected person or use a latex condom every time you have sex

Avoid sharing needles

If you are infected with hepatitis C virus, avoid spreading it by not donating blood or tissue.

 



First Published: Monday, December 9, 2013 - 14:21

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