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Hepatitis

Information about this common liver disease

Hepatitis C is a very common liver disease. In the absence of medical treatment, hepatitis C can further lead to chronic liver disease. Hepatitis C is caused by infection with a virus (HCV) which is also responsible for causing cirrhosis and liver cancer. Hepatitis C can be considered a life-threatening disease, as it causes more than 10.000 deaths in the United States each year.

Hepatitis C can be either acute or chronic. Chronic hepatitis C can further lead to cirrhosis, severe liver disease and even liver cancer. People with the disease experience the symptoms of hepatitis C at different intensities. In some cases, patients with uncomplicated forms of the disease may actually show no apparent signs of hepatitis C and the only effective means of establishing an appropriate diagnose in the incipient stage of infection are blood analyses and liver biopsy.

Hepatitis C can be transmitted by contact with infected blood. The disease can be acquired through transfusions with contaminated blood or through the use of inappropriately sterilized needles, syringes and other medical utensils. Prior to 1992, the main cause of hepatitis C transmission was blood transfusion, on the premises of poor verification of the donated blood. After 1992, the risk of contracting hepatitis C virus through blood transfusions has dramatically decreased, as new, improved methods became available for testing the quality of the donated blood. Nowadays, hepatitis C is commonly acquired through shared, un-sterilized needles. Drug addicts are the most exposed to contracting hepatitis C virus and due to drug abuse, they may have already developed complications by the time they are diagnosed with the disease.

Rarely, hepatitis C can be transmitted from mother to infant. However, only an estimated 5 percent of infants born to mothers with the disease actually become infected. Even if the infant is infected with hepatitis C virus, the disease is rarely serious and its symptoms are mild. Also, hepatitis C virus can’t be transmitted by breast-feeding.

Hepatitis C can be sexually transmitted and people who frequently change their partners are the most exposed to contracting the virus. In order to prevent the sexual transmission of the hepatitis C virus, people need to take extra precautions and practice safe sex.

Sporadic transmission is when the actual cause of hepatitis C infection is unknown. Statistics indicate that sporadic transmission accounts for around 10 percent of hepatitis C cases and around 25 percent of chronic hepatitis C cases. Sporadic transmission is also known as community-acquired infection, when the exact scenario of the infection is unknown. In many cases, community-acquired infections occur due to exposure of open cuts or wounds to the hepatitis C virus. Considering the fact that hepatitis C is a very dangerous disease, it is important to take steps in preventing its occurrence. In time, hepatitis C can lead to severe liver disease and even cancer.