Doctor's Notes on Hepatitis C (HCV, Hep C)
Hepatitis C is an inflammation of the liver caused by an infection with the hepatitis C virus (HCV). The hepatitis C virus is typically spread through blood contact, such as blood transfusion, hemodialysis, and needle sticks, especially with intravenous drug abuse. Up to 85% of people infected with HCV will go on to develop a chronic (long-term) infection.
Most people do not have signs or symptoms of HCV when they first acquire the infection. About 25% may have:
Signs and symptoms associated with chronic hepatitis C, if scarring of the liver develops, may include:
- weight loss,
- breast enlargement in men (gynecomastia),
- yellowing of the skin and eyes (jaundice),
- abdominal pain,
- problems with blood clotting, and
- enlargement of the abdomen due to fluid collection.
What Is the Treatment for Hepatitis C?
Antiviral medications are used in the treatment of hepatitis C, with the goal of having no virus detected in the body after 12 weeks of treatment. Newer antiviral medications for hepatitis C are known as direct-acting antivirals (DAAs). There are a number of antiviral medication options available, and the choice of these is individualized for every patient.
The treatment choice depends on which type of hepatitis C is present and the degree of liver scarring that is already present.
Hepatitis C : What is Hepatitis C? QuizQuestion
Hepatitis C virus causes an infection of the ______________.See Answer
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Hepatitis C MedicationsInflammation of the liver caused by infection with the hepatitis C virus (HCV) is referred to as hepatitis C. There are a variety of treatments available for hepatitis C, depending on the type and severity of infection to include: antiviral medications, interferon's, ribavarin drugs, protease inhibitors. Additional treatment includes lifestyle changes and home care, surgery, and liver transplant. There is no vaccination for hepatitis C.
Jaundice (In Adults and Newborns)Jaundice is a yellow staining of the skin and the whites of the eyes caused by abnormally high blood levels of the bile pigment bilirubin. Examples of the causes of jaundice include; malaria, sickle cell disease, drugs, toxins, newborn jaundice, gallstones, pancreatitis, and autoimmune disorders. Some of the common symptoms of jaundice include yellow discoloration of the skin and whites of the eyes, light colored stools, dark urine, and itching of the skin. Treatment for jaundice depends on the cause.
Liver Blood TestsLiver blood tests are used to check the levels and function of liver enzymes in the blood called AST and ALT or aminotransferases in the blood. Symptoms of elevated or high liver enzymes in the blood include fever, abdominal pain, poor appetite, itching, and nausea. Normal levels of liver enzymes in blood are caused by liver diseases caused by drugs, for example, acetaminophen (Tylenol), pain medications, and statins. Less common causes of abnormal levels of ALT or AST levels in the blood are alcoholic and non-alcoholic liver diseases (NASH), hepatitis, and alcoholism. Normal levels of ALT ranges from about 7-56 units/liter, and 10-40 units/liters for AST. Elevated (high) and low liver enzymes elevated levels of AST and ALT may signify the level of liver damage the person has. A blood sample is sent to the laboratory for measurement. Usually, you doctor will have the results interpreted within a few hours to days. Liver blood tests are used to check normal, elevated (high), and low blood levels of liver enzymes (AST and ALT or aminotransferases). Symptoms of elevated levels of liver enzymes are fever, abdominal pain, poor appetite, and nausea. Drugs, for example, acetaminophen (Tylenol), pain drugs, and statins caused high levels of liver enzymes. Less common causes are NASH, hepatitis, and alcoholism.
Liver DiseaseThe liver is the largest solid organ in the body, and is actually an gland. The liver has a wide variety of critical functions such as manufacturing proteins and metabolizing fats and carbohydrates. The liver also eliminates harmful biochemical waste products from the body (alcohol, drugs, toxins).The liver secretes bile that aids in digestion. Examples of diseases of the liver include; cirrhosis, hepatitis, cancer, and fatty liver (nonalcoholic fatty liver). Symptoms of liver disease include bleeding, easy bruising, edema, fatigue, and jaundice.
Kasper, D.L., et al., eds. Harrison's Principles of Internal Medicine, 19th Ed. United States: McGraw-Hill Education, 2015.