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Hepatitis C (Hep C, HCV)

Facts and definition of hepatitis C (hep C, HVC)

  • Hepatitis C is an inflammation of the liver due to a viral infection. The virus that causes the infection is called hepatitis C virus (HCV).
  • A person contracts the hepatitis C virus by coming into contact with infectious fluids and secretions from someone else who is already infected with hepatitis C virus.
  • Signs and symptoms of hepatitis C include
  • fatigue,
  • muscle aches,
  • tenderness in the upper abdomen,
  • yellow tinge to the skin and eyes, dark urine (jaundice), and
  • light colored bowel movements.
  • Hepatitis is contagious, meaning it is passed from person to person. In order to contract hepatitis C, you must come into contact with blood or other body fluids that could contain blood of an infected person. For injection drug users, sharing needles with someone who is infected with hepatitis C virus is a common way to become infected.
  • Hepatitis C is diagnosed by an exposure history to someone who has or is suspected to have hepatitis C, plus having symptoms of hepatitis, abnormal findings upon examination, and positive blood tests for hepatitis C.
  • Hepatitis usually can be cured by antiviral drugs prescribed by a specialist who treats hepatitis C. These drugs used are very different from the common antibiotics most people have taken for routine infections caused by bacteria.
  • Hepatitis C can be prevented by avoiding contact with blood and body fluids from anyone who is or might be infected with hepatitis C.
  • There is no vaccination against hepatitis C.
  • The prognosis for a person with hepatitis C is variable, depending upon when the infection is diagnosed and when treatment is begun. Approximately 20%-50% of infected patients cure themselves without need for treatment. Those who do not spontaneously cure the infection become chronically (persistently) infected.
  • With early diagnosis and treatment, the current prognosis is excellent for those who are chronically infected. However, severe complications can occur due to advanced, untreated hepatitis C, including cirrhosis, liver failure, liver cancer, need for liver transplantation, and even death.
Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 3/18/2016
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Hepatitis C - Transmission

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Symptoms of Hepatitis C Infection

Like the slow, silent serial killers found in society, this disease, hepatitis C, slowly and methodically has infected many people. Symptoms of hepatitis C include:

  • liver problems,
  • jaundice (yellow skin, the whites of the eyes are yellow), and
  • cirrhosis.

Read What Your Physician is Reading on Medscape

Hepatitis C »

The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates 170 million individuals worldwide are infected with hepatitis C virus (HCV).

Read More on Medscape Reference »

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