Hepatitis C is a contagious liver disease that results from infection with the hepatitis C virus. It can range in severity from a mild illness lasting only a few days or a few weeks to a very serious illness that can last a lifetime. The three different strains of hepatitis: hepatitis A, hepatitis B, and hepatitis C are diseases caused by three separate viruses. Although each of the diseases can cause similar symptoms, they each have different modes of infection and can affect the liver in different ways.
Hepatitis C begins as acute infection, but in mom people, the virus will remain in the infected person’s body resulting in a disease that can lead long term liver issues. There are vaccines to help prevent hepatitis A and B; however, there are not any vaccines to prevent a hepatitis C infection. If a person has had one type of viral hepatitis in the past, they are not immune to the other strains of the disease and it is still possible to be infected by a different type of hepatitis. Hepatitis C is usually spread when blood from a person infected with the virus enters the body of someone who is not infected.
It is one of the most common viruses that can infect the liver. According to Centers for Disease Control statistics, most people become infected with the hepatitis C virus by sharing needles or other equipment to inject drugs. “Before 1992, when widespread screening of the blood supply began in the United States, hepatitis C was also commonly spread through blood transfusions and organ transplants” (“Hepatitis c information,” 2012). Although these are the most common ways for a person to be infected, there are several other ways people can become infected with the hepatitis C virus.
For instance: needle stick injuries in health care settings, Ewing born to a mother who has hepatitis C, sharing personal care items that may have come in contact with another person’s blood such as razors or toothbrushes, or having sexual contact with a person infected with the hepatitis C virus (“Hepatitis c information,” 2012). The incubation period for the virus is 2 weeks to 6 months. Following the initial infection of the virus, approximately 80% of people do not exhibit any symptoms of the disease at all.
On the other hand,” those who are acutely symptomatic may exhibit fever, fatigue, decreased appetite, nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain, dark urine, grey-colored feces, joint pain and jaundice which is a yellowing of skin and the whites of the eyes” (“Hepatitis c,” 2013). Every’ year, 3 to 4 million people are infected with the hepatitis C virus. About 150 million people are chronically infected with the disease and at risk of developing liver cirrhosis and/or liver cancer because of it. All over the world, more than 350,000 people die from hepatitis C related liver diseases every year (“Hepatitis c,” 2013).
According to a new report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Hepatitis C deaths are on the rise. The report found baby monomers are especially at risk because they account for two-thirds of all hepatitis C cases (“Hepatitis c: Expansion,” 2012). According to a CBS news report, this news has prompted health officials to wonder whether anyone born between 1945 and 1965 should get a blood test for hepatitis C, because many of these “baby boomers” may have had the disease for decades without even realizing it. ‘One of every 33 baby boomers are living with hepatitis C infection,” says Dry.
John Ward, the Cad’s hepatitis chief. “Most people will be surprised, because it’s a silent epidemic. ” For a CDC study, published in the Feb.. 21 issue of the Annals of Internal Medicine, researchers analyzed a decade of death records and found an increase in death rates from hepatitis C. In fact, in 2007 there were 15,000 deaths related to hepatitis C, higher than previous estimates and surpassing the nearly 13,000 deaths caused by the better known AIDS virus. Perhaps more surprising, three-fourths of the hepatitis deaths occurred in middle aged people 45 to 64 years old (“Hepatitis c death,” 2012).
An estimated 3. 2 million people in the United States have chronic hepatitis C virus infection. Most people who have the disease do not now they are infected because they do not look or feel sick. A healthy liver performs roughly 500 separate functions, each Vital to life. When hepatitis C infects the liver, it damages and eventually kills healthy liver cells. The liver’s tissue, which is dense and smooth when it is healthy, becomes lumpy and stiff, making it progressively harder for blood to filter through.
Eventually, it can’t filter at all (Panderer, 2013). About 75% to 85 % of newly infected people develop a chronic infection and 60% to 70% of chronically infected people develop chronic liver disease such as cirrhosis or liver cancer. Of those that develop a chronic liver disease, 1% to 5% dies from cirrhosis or liver cancer (“Hepatitis c information,” 2012). Cirrhosis is a scarring of a person’s healthy liver tissue. Anything that damages your liver, such as hepatitis C, can cause it to form scar tissue.
As hard scar tissue replaces soft, healthy normal tissue the liver can no longer work well or in some cases work at all. It can take a long time, about 20 to 30 years, for liver damage to lead to cirrhosis. In addition to cirrhosis of the liver, hepatitis C can lead to cancer of the liver. In 5% of liver cancer patients, the underlying cause of the cancer is hepatitis C. When a person who has hepatitis C liver is affected, some of the cells in the liver reproduce faster than they should which leads to tumors and other problems (“What can happen,” 2014).
Hepatitis C does not always require treatment for those that suffer from the disease. Researchers have found that there are 6 genotypes of the hepatitis C virus and they all may respond differently to treatment. Careful screening of the patient and identification of the genotype is necessary before starting the treatment in order to determine he most effective treatment for the patient. Approximately 15% to 25% of people who are infected with hepatitis C will clear the virus from their bodies without treatment and will not develop chronic infection.
Experts do not fully understand why this happens for some people (“Hepatitis c information,” 2012). For those patients that do require treatment, the one most often used is a combination of two medicines, interferon and arriving. But as stated above, not every person with chronic hepatitis C needs or will benefit from treatment. In addition, the combination of drugs used may cause serious did effects in some patients. The combination of antiviral treatment with the drugs interferon and arriving has been the mainstay of hepatitis C treatment.
Unfortunately, interferon is not readily available around the world; and it is not always well tolerated by patients. Some of the virus genotypes do respond better to interferon than others, but because of the harshness of the side effects, many people who take interferon do not finish the course of treatment (“Hepatitis c information,” 2012). What this means is that while hepatitis C is generally considered by doctors to be a curable disease, cause of these factors, for many patients this is not the case.
Recent scientific advances have led to the development of new antiviral drugs for hepatitis C which may be better tolerated and more effective than the existing treatments. Two new therapeutic agents: telegrapher and bookkeeper, have recently been licensed in some countries. Although they are now available for treatment, a lot needs to be done to ensure that these new drugs are available for treatment globally (“Hepatitis c,” 2013). Speaking about two new drugs that were recently approved for use in treating hepatitis C Rebecca
Hags article on The Huffing Post said, “The new drugs, souvenir, approved earlier in December 2013, and simpered which was approved in November, could be game changers in the treatment of hepatitis C because they open up the possibility of combating the disease without the use of interferon. And they can supplement other new drugs already in use the above mentioned telegrapher and bookkeeper. ” These two drugs have already been shown to dramatically improve hepatitis C cure rates, and to also shorten the length of hepatitis C treatment (Hag, 2013).