In case of acute hepatitis C infection most of the people are asymptomatic, so they show no signs of infection. Symptoms of hepatitis C usually show up within two weeks, at most six months after exposure to the virus.
Which are Hepatitis C Symptoms?
They resemble you have mild symptoms of the flu: tiredness, muscle pain, joint pain, fever, lack of appetite, stomach pain, itchy skin, dark colored urine and slight jaundice (yellow skin and whites of the eyes). In most cases (70-80%) the evolution of acute hepatitis C into chronic hepatitis C means that, beyond the totally missing symptoms, the virus infection is in progress; in other words, it can last 15 years or more before it is actually diagnosed.
How is Hepatitis C transmitted?
Hepatitis C is only transmissible through the blood, that is when the bloodstream of an infected person comes into contact with that of a healthy person. In most cases, this happens while using needles to inject substances into the bloodstream (drugs or medications). Until 1992, in the United States, blood and organ screening was not standard, so it is believed that the disease was quite widespread in the medical health sector, thanks to blood transfusions or organ transplants. Unlike the common cold, Hepatitis C is not that contagious, therefore it is not possible to be infected through kissing, hugging, sneezing, coughing, holding hands or sharing food, drinks and utensils.
As recommended by the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force, for all adults between the ages of 18 and 79, screening for hepatitis C is recommended, and especially for those at-risk categories mentioned in our previous Hepatitis C article. If the first phase of screening, carried out through a first blood test, shows that the positivity to the HCV virus, further blood tests are necessary, able to measure the viral load present and identify the genotype of the virus.
Having ascertained the significant presence of the HCV virus in the body, in order to assess the liver damage caused by chronic hepatitis C, doctors resort to even more in-depth tests. Magnetic Resonance Elastography (MRE): This is a less invasive approach than liver biopsy, which combines magnetic resonance technology with patterns formed by sound waves. By bouncing off the liver, the sound waves create a visual map showing the various levels of stiffness; portions of stiff liver tissue indicate the presence of fibrosis due to chronic hepatitis C. Transient Elastography: with a type of minimally invasive ultrasound, vibrations are transmitted to the liver to estimate its rigidity, by measuring the speed of dispersion in the liver tissue. Liver biopsy: This test involves inserting a fine needle through the abdominal wall to remove a small sample of liver tissue for laboratory testing. Blood tests: Series of blood tests can indicate the extent of fibrosis in the liver.
If you are not positive for the HCV virus, reducing the risk of contraction is possible. Here are some practical tips, for particular cases.
If you use drugs by injection, find out about a treatment program and, in the meantime, avoid sharing needles (or other appliances) with third parties (in many cities, there are programs for providing sterile replacement needles). If you are undergoing a piercing or tattoo, check that all the equipment has been properly sterilized. If you are a healthcare professional, just follow the safety precautions:. Wear protective clothing and gloves, properly dispose of contaminated sharp objects. If you have more than one sexual partner or are a man who has sex with other men, use condoms for intercourse.
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