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What is Hepatitis C ?

To understand what is Hepatitis C we have to understand what hepatitis actually is.

Hepatitis C is an infectious disease caused by Hepatitis C Virus (HCV). HCV is a small virus consisting of viral RNA found in the core of the virus, as seen from the picture, and an envelope that protects the virus.

When HCV enters human bloodstream it floats into the liver where it starts to replicate by using human liver cells to create new viruses. This causes liver inflammation that is in turn followed by liver cirrhosis. In the liver via liver transplant.Hepatitis C is an infectious disease caused by Hepatitis C Virus (HCV). HCV is a small virus consisting of viral RNA found in the core of the virus, as seen from the picture, and an envelope that protects the virus.When HCV enters human bloodstream it floats into the liver where it starts to replicate by using human liver cells to create new viruses. This causes liver inflammation that is in turn followed by liver cirrhosis. In the liver via liver transplant.

On the upside, there are viable treatments for Hepatitis C, based on interferon medication. However, the medications are becoming more and more evolved which lead to the invention of Sofosbuvir – the first all-oral Hep C therapy.

What is hepatitis C is hence best described as a virus infection that causes liver damage and eventually liver failure.

The disease is commonly asymptomatic – that means that there are no apparent symptoms such as pain or fever. However, if patient is closely observed there are some symptoms that can suggest Hepatitis C infection.

With more than 170 million estimated patient around the world, the new Sofosbuvir treatment of Hep C is very important. If Hep C is rapidly treated, the following problems with liver surgery can be effectively avoided.

Hepatitis C Symptoms

hepatitis c symptoms

Hepatitis C symptoms are in most cases very subtle and the disease itself is characterised as being asymptotic. This means that there are little or no symptoms that could indicate viral infection with Hepatitis C virus.

Because of the lack of symptoms Hep C could be as well referred to as an invisible disease.

On the other hand, there are some subtle Hepatitis C symptoms to be aware about. These include:

  • feeling tired all time
  • Jaundice (yellowish eyes)
  • loss of appetite and weight loss
  • stomach problems
  • nausea
  • high temperature of 38oC (100.4oF) or higher


When talking about Hepatitis C symptoms it is important to understand the difference between acute and chronic Hep C. The above symptoms are characteristic for acute Hepatitis C which happens mere weeks after infection with the virus. However, most of these are very subtle and not noticed. They are also very general – it is difficult for a doctor to figure out that these symptoms are a sign of Hep C, because a number of others diseased causing similar symptoms as likely as hepatitis. Hepatitis C symptoms are more severe, yet still subtle, in chronic Hepatitis C, and are as follows:

  • headaches and depression
  • Jaundice (yellowish eyes)
  • tiredness and short-term memory problems
  • mood swings
  • itchy skin
  • joint and muscle pain
  • abdominal pain

If these Hepatitis C symptoms are identified and the disease is properly diagnosed and treated, the chances of being cured of Hepatitis C are very high with both Interferon and Sofosbuvir treatment.

Let us see an example of how asymptomatic Hepatitis C can be. The following is a quote by a patient:

I tested reactive for Hepatitis C in 2008. I experienced no symptoms since then. When retested in July of 2013, I was told by the doctor that I was positive for the antibodies, but negative for the virus. No one has definitively explained this to me.

This is the case when the immune system of a Hep C patient was strong enough to fight of the infection. As seen from the quote, there were no symptoms, despite the disease being present. The body produced antibodies that eliminated the Hep C virus. This patient was one of the fortunate 40% of Hep C cases where immune system was able to fight of the virus.

Here is a second case of a Hep C patient describing his symptoms:

hepatitis c symptoms

 I am tired all the time. I have stomach pains. Feel shortness of breath often. I have a metallic taste in my mouth all the time. I am  afraid family might get it, although I've been told that it has to be blood-to-blood contact. I still feel like I am harbouring a dangerous  monster.

 This patient is well aware of the problem he's having, the next step is to correctly diagnose Hepatitis C with medical test – read  more about diagnostics tests for Hep C.

 Overall, Hepatitis C symptoms are very delicate and hard to figure out. If you have 3 or more of the symptoms, you should go to  your doctor and check yourself for Hep C.

Hepatitis C Diagnosis

When we want to confirm that Hep C is indeed present in our liver we have to use different tests. Hepatitis C diagnosis can target on detecting two things – the Hepatitis C virus (HCV) itself or antibodies against HCV that are formed because the immune system is trying to fight of the infection.

For Hepatitis C diagnosis via detection of HCV a method with PCR is used to detect HCV's genome in one's bloodstream. With this method, we can detect Hep C infection very quickly – usually 1-2 weeks after the infection.

On the other hand, antibodies against HCV need time to develop. Methods such as ELISA or Western Blot that targets the antibodies is effective only after prolonged period of infection.However, the most common way of Hepatitis C diagnosis is by looking at increased liver enzymes in routine tests. Hepatitic C virus can infect your body for decades on end without every showing any symptoms.

It is also worth mentioning that the once diagnosis for Hep C is made, it is rather hard to figure out how long has the infection been present.

Hepatitis C Diagnosis

HOW HEPATITIS C DIAGNOSIS BEGINS

The first thing a doctor suspecting Hep C infection will do is order blood work. This will tell him if antibodies against HCV are present in the bloodstream via ELISA test. The problem here is that in most cases antibodies appear 2-3 months after the infection, in some cases even after half a year. So if you don't have antibodies that does not necessarily mean that you don't have Hep C. On the other hand, if you have antibodies, that does not necessarily mean you have Hep C – this is in the case when the immune system successfully fought of the infection, and all that remained are the antibodies in the bloodstream. That's why when test on antibodies is positive, a doctor will order PCR test to detect Hepatitis C virus in bloodstream. For this purposes test were developed that can give the information in under 30 minutes.

On the other hand, liver enzymes can be elevated in the beginning of the infection. However, the increase is often subtle and is disregarded.

LIVER BIOPSY 

The surest way to see the liver damage is to surgically remove a piece of liver – this is known as liver biopsy. In the laboratory, they will examine this piece and try to figure out if the infection is caused by Hepatitis C virus and how serious is the condition of patient's liver. This procedure is very invasive. That is why new test are being developed that could be presented as an alternative to liver biopsy.

THE IMPORTANCE OF GETTING TESTED

If you have tattoos or are above 50 years of age, it is very advantageous to get a Hepatitis C diagnosis via a simple test. What it takes is just a few drops of your blood and it is done. It is assumed that more than 75% of Hepatitis C patients are walking around without even knowing that they have Hep C. Are you one of them?

Do you have Hepatitis C? Not sure?

Hepatitis C Blood Test

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Hepatitis C Transmission

Hepatitis C transmission represents different possibilities how Hepatitis C virus can enter your blood stream.

Intravenous drug use

The dominant way of Hepatitis C transmission comes from reused infectious needles in illegal drug use.  In developed countries, more than 60% of Hepatitis C transmission is done in such way. The frequency of Hep C patient in illegal drug users is very high.Similar is seen in prisoner population, where there are 10 to 20 times as many Hep C patients as in the rest of population, primarily because of intravenous drug use and tattoos made with non-sterile needles.

Blood transfusion

Second most common way of Hepatitis C transmission is by blood transfusion or organ transplant. Before 1990, when testing donor blood for Hep C was non-existent the probability of transmission was 1 again 200 units of blood. Nowadays all the blood is tested for Hepatitis C and the likelihood of getting Hep C with blood transfusion is 1 against 10.000. The test takes from 11 to 70 days. It is, however, important to not that because of the high cost of Hep C testing some countries choose not to test donor blood for Hepatitis C.

Sexual transmission

There are different views on how and if Hepatitis C transmission can be done with sexual intercourse. The probability of transmission, nonetheless, is argued to be higher for HIV patients. Needless to stress, wearing a condom is highly recommended to avoid the spread of Hep C.

Tattoos and Piercings

Similar as in the case with intravenous drug use, the use of non-sterile needles in creating a tattoo or piercing can be a cause of Hepatitis C transmission.

Mother-to-Baby Transmission

Hepatitis C transmission can also occur between pregnant mother and the baby. The transmission occurs in less than 10% of cases.

Hepatitis C Vaccine

hepatitis c vaccine

There has been a lot of talk about Hepatitis C vaccine. With millions of people suffering from the disease and millions of potential cases just pending for infection, the need for some kind of vaccine is very high. Unfortunately, however, the vaccine for Hepatitis C does not yet exist. Some serious research is done on developing of the vaccine and we will report those in our news, but as of now the latest treatment is Sofosbuvir and there is still no vaccine in sight.

Nonetheless, there are measures that are or can be put in place to reduce the spread of Hepatitis C other than getting vaccinated. 

The most important thing is to reduce risk of Hep C transmission via non-sterile or used needles primarily used by drug addicts or, on the other hand, by tattoo artists. Remember that more than 60% of all Hep C transmission comes from needle reuse. Drug addicts can find free sterile needles at local pharmacies, which gives them an opportunity to not use the same needles again and again and thus risking Hep C infection.

Hep C infested donor blood is also responsible for close to 25% of Hepatitis C transmission. Here are important steps were take in 1990 when testing donor blood for Hepatitis C virus was introduced. Today this test is used in most of the developed countries. However, the problem with testing the blood are the costs associated with these tests and there are some countries that choose not to test donor blood.Professional and public education about the disease is also of great importance in reducing Hep C infections.

I don't know about you, but the studies suggest that more than 70% of people are unsure if there is Hepatitis C vaccine in existence. In part, this is also our mission here at esofosbuvir.com to engage the readers and spread the word about the Hepatitis C awareness.

Hepatitis C Treatment

hepatitis c treatment

There are different ways of Hepatitis C treatment. The upside is that new innovative drugs such as Sofosbuvir are being discovered that can deliver the best treatment results with as little inconvenience and adverse effects as possible

First of, lets do the math. Infection with Hepatitis C virus in 60-70% develop chronic Hepatitis C disease that can lead to death by liver cirrhosis or liver cancer. It is suggested that 1-5% of people infected die because of Hepatitis C.

There are treatments to work against this math by achieving the distinct goals:

  1. Liver cirrhosis relief
  2. Relief of potential diseases outside the liver (Hep C can spread)
  3. Reducing the Hepatitis C transmission

Needless to say, there are few factors that can increase the likelihood of Hepatitis C complications, such a chronic alcoholism, diabetes, obesity or drugs that can hurt the liver.

Since the market release of Sofosbuvir on 6th of December 2013, there are two viable treatments for Hepatitis C.

 

1. HEPATITIS C TREATMENT WITH INTERFERON

Interferon treatment is the golden standard for Hepatitis C treatment since the late 1980s. Interferon deliver to the body via injecting it directly to the bloodstream. Interferon is pegylated, which enables long-lasting effect. Ribavirin, an antiviral medicine is used together with interferon to better treat Hepatitis C. The treatment last from 24 to 48 weeks, depending on Hepatitis C genotype. The cure rate is 50-60%. Interferon side effects such as flu-like symptoms develop in half of the treated patients, while a third of the patients experience emotional problems.

2. HEPATITIS C TREATMENT WITH SOFOSBUVIR

Sofosbuvir in the latest medicine for Hepatitis C. It is the first all-oral treatment for Hep C, taken together with Ribavirin. Treatment with Sofosbuvir lasts for 12 to 24 weeks, which is half the time of the treatment with interferon. The cure rate is about 90% which is a drastic increase from 50-60% with interferon. It is also worth mentioning that Sofosbuvir is used together with interferon and Ribavirin to treat genotype 1 and genoytpe 4 Hepatitis C. However, the side effects for treatment without interferon do not cause interferon-related adverse effects such as flu-like symptoms and emotional complications.

There are also other alternative treatments we will cover, but the basis of Hepatitis C is represented by mixture of interferon with Ribavirin together with the newly developed drug Sofosbuvir in the form of Sovaldi pills.