Hepatitis C - most people associate this diagnosis with almost a death sentence. However, this is a fallacy: Hepatitis C disease is not an incurable disease at all, although, of course, treating it will not be an easy walk.

What is hepatitis C actually, and what you need to know about it?

What kind of disease is hepatitis C?
Hepatitis C is a viral liver disease that, if launched, can affect not only this organ, but also damage the kidneys, pancreas and thyroid glands, nervous system, cause cirrhosis and even cancer. Most often they get sick at 20-40 years old, and according to statistics from the World Health Organization, up to 3% of our planet suffer from hepatitis C. Most common in Central and East Asia, North Africa.

The disease is difficult to diagnose, because at first it has practically no symptoms, or disguises itself as other diseases, expressed only in the weakness of a passing feeling of fatigue, for which he received the nickname of “affectionate” or “elusive killer” from doctors. As a result, the patient can live with him for 10 and 20 years, not suspecting that hepatitis is undermining him a little from the inside, destroying the liver.

In cases where the virus will be treated, but with a great delay, the disease goes into the chronic stage (from 70 to 85% of cases).

What causes hepatitis C
The causative agent of hepatitis C is the HCV virus, which, when it enters the bloodstream, forms a compound with low density lipoproteins. It has 6 genotypes, however, up to 40 new genotypes can form due to various mutations.

Such a variety of genotypes is the main reason why the hepatitis C vaccine has not yet been invented - the variety of viral genomes does not allow the immune system to develop the necessary antibodies.

Hepatitis C is transmitted only through blood. The source of infection is only its carrier. Usually, infection occurs due to blood transfusions, injections.

It is impossible to get infected with hepatitis C through a handshake or through dishes, that is, through the household.

What are the symptoms of hepatitis C?
As we have already said, unlike Botkin’s disease or hepatitis B, the disease initially does not have any particular symptoms. At this time, which can last for many years, the disease will destroy the patient’s liver.

Sometimes some symptoms may still be observed, for example, manifestations:

- weaknesses;

- fatigue;

- weaknesses;

- deterioration of blood coagulation (appears in longer bleeding with the slightest scratch;

- indigestion, diarrhea;

- persistent increase in body temperature, chills;

- decreased appetite;

- light stool;

- darkening of urine.

What is characterized by chronic hepatitis C
If treatment was not timely, hepatitis C can become chronic. At the same time, the disease does not cause much harm, but remains in the blood, and such a person is a carrier of hepatitis and is a source of infection.

If left untreated, chronic hepatitis C causes irreversible effects:

- liver cancer;

- liver failure;

- cirrhosis of the liver.

Symptoms of liver cirrhosis:

- skin and whites of the eyes acquire a yellowish tint (yellowness);

- the stomach increases (ascites);

- swollen ankles;

- constant nausea;

- weakness, lethargy, asthenia;

- decreased appetite;

- weight is reduced;

- spider veins appear on the skin.

What is the prognosis for chronic hepatitis C?

Carriers of hepatitis C virus for 20 years have a 20% risk of developing cirrhosis, and 5% of carriers are at risk of developing liver cancer. The older the infected, the higher the risks of such diseases.

Risk groups: who is most at risk of contracting hepatitis C?
Hepatitis C virus can affect everyone, but there are also high-risk groups:

High Risk Group:

- addicts injecting the drug intravenously;

- Hemophilia patients who took blood factors before 1987.

Intermediate risk group

- Patients requiring hemodialysis (regularly cleanse the blood with an "artificial kidney" apparatus);

- those who underwent an organ transplant or blood transfusion before July 1992;

- having a liver disease that cannot be identified;

- children whose mothers are infected with hepatitis C.

Low Risk Group:

- doctors;

- those who have been infected with a sexually transmitted disease at least once;

- Those who have a promiscuous sex life have several sexual partners.

- those who have had sexual intercourse with the carrier of the disease.

How is hepatitis C infected?
Hepatitis C can only be picked up through blood!

The most common methods of infection:

- when reusing a syringe that has already been used by a patient with hepatitis C;

- during the use of non-sterile instruments used in dentistry, cosmetology (for piercing, tattooing, manicure, pedicure, etc.);

- in case of safety violations during the work with hepatitis C-infected blood;

- during childbirth, when the mother is a carrier of hepatitis C;

- during intercourse with a carrier of hepatitis C.

Most often, infection occurs through non-sterile instruments (to dentistry, cosmetology, medicine).

Do not become infected with hepatitis C!
Hepatitis C virus cannot be infected by airborne droplets, as well as through sweat, saliva, or through touch. Specifically, we can say that it is impossible to become infected with:

- handshakes;

- hugs;

- a kiss on the cheek;

- being in the same room with the infected;

- conversation;

- coughing, sneezing;

- the use of common utensils, the use of one meal, drink.

In everyday life, you can pick up this disease only with such injuries when the blood of a sick and healthy person mixes - with cuts, abrasions, ulcers, erosion.

How can hepatitis C infection be avoided?
In order to exclude the possibility of being infected with hepatitis C, you need:

- Do not use personal hygiene items together with anyone - they must remain personal in the literal sense of the word (manicure accessories, combs, toothbrushes).

- use barrier contraceptives (condoms) during intercourse.

- make sure that sterile or disposable instruments are used in cosmetic or medical procedures.

Diagnosis of hepatitis C
Diagnosis of this disease is carried out as a result of a blood test, which is checked in the laboratory for the presence of antibodies to hepatitis C virus (anti-HCV).

Alas, this analysis does not give a 100% guarantee of the result, since it can be either false positive or false negative. For greater reliability of the diagnosis, an additional test analysis is performed to detect the virus RNA.

At the same time, a blood test cannot establish the type and form of hepatitis, but only give an answer to the question - is a person infected with hepatitis C virus or not.

In order to clarify the diagnosis, finding out if there is a chronic stage, it is necessary to conduct a biopsy of the patient’s liver tissue. For this, microparticles of liver tissue are taken for analysis and examined under a microscope.

Hepatitis C treatment
Hepatitis C treatment is quite a long and expensive business (the minimum treatment period is 48 weeks of treatment, it will cost from $ 3 to $ 8 thousand). The process should be under the supervision of a hepatologist in order to prevent the transition of its chronic form to active, avoiding changes in the liver that can become irreversible and can cause death. Also used for treatment sofosbuvir and daclatasvir

In the treatment process, drugs are usually used that strengthen the immune system in the ability to counteract the virus, protect liver cells from destruction. Most often these are drugs from the group of pegylated interferons (in other words, interferons with prolined or prolonged action), the most popular is Pegasis. The second group of drugs for the treatment of hepatitis C - powerful antiviral agents based on ribavirin (Ribavin, Arviron).

In the treatment of hepatitis C, an individual approach is necessary, taking into account the genotype of the virus, the state of the liver, and changes in the state of the body during treatment.

In the event that, despite the treatment, the liver continues to deteriorate (progression of liver failure), it may be necessary to transplant it. However, after transplantation, treatment will have to be continued, because it does not cure a person from hepatitis C.

Hepatitis C treatment efficacy
As long-term observations have shown, a positive prognosis after undergoing a full course of treatment is from 50 to 80%, depending on the individual reaction of the patient's body to both the virus and the treatment.

The effectiveness of treatment is improved provided that the treatment by the hepatologist is constantly monitored and the patient's liver is in good initial condition.

To strengthen the liver should:

- do not abuse alcoholic beverages;

- do not abuse fried, spicy dishes;

- Do not abuse fatty foods.

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