Hepatitis C is a viral infection that causes liver inflammation, sometimes leading to serious liver damage over many years. Hepatitis C is one of the different types of hepatitis.
Hepatitis C can range from a mild illness lasting a few weeks to a serious, lifelong illness. Unlike other types of hepatitis, there is no vaccination for hepatitis C.
There are two types of hepatitis C infection: Acute (a short-term infection that occurs within 6 months after a person is exposed to the virus) and Chronic (a long-term infection with the hepatitis C virus).
Hepatitis C infection is caused by the hepatitis C virus (HCV). The infection spreads when blood contaminated with the virus enters the bloodstream of an uninfected person. Risk factors include exposure of healthcare workers to infected blood, Hiv infection, injection /inhalation of illicit drugs, and all forms of contact with contaminated blood.
The symptoms of Hepatitis C infection include fatigue, poor appetite, yellow discolouration of the skin and eyes (jaundice), dark-coloured urine, itchy skin, fluid buildup in the abdomen, swelling in the legs, clay-coloured stools, weight loss, confusion, drowsiness, slurred speech, spiderlike blood vessels on the skin, abdominal pain, joint pain, nausea and vomiting.
If the infection is left untreated, it can lead to cirrhosis of the liver, liver failure, and liver cancer.
The laboratory diagnosis of Hepatitis C Is by screening for Hepatitis C virus(HCV), Liver Biopsy and Liver Function Tests. Treatment for Hepatitis C is by antiviral medications and liver transplantation.
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