Let us first explain what ‘Hepatitis’ is. It is an inflammation of liver and hepatitis C is a liver inflammation caused by the Hepatitis C Virus aka (HCV).
Some other types of viral hepatitis include hepatitis A, B, D and E.
Hepatitis A and E are caused by contaminated foods and drinks. Whereas hepatitis B, C and D are transmitted via body fluids.
Vaccines are available to prevent hepatitis A and B, but there are no vaccines for hepatitis C and E, yet. You only get hepatitis D if you already have hepatitis B, so the hepatitis B vaccine can protect you from both B and D infections.
Major causes of Hepatitis C
- HCV is main cause of hepatitis C infections. According to World Health Organization, there are six major of HCV and more than 50 subtypes of hepatitis.
- Hepatitis C is a contagious disease that is transmitted when the blood of an infected person enters the body of someone who is not infected.
- Today most common causes of this disease are:
- Used needles and syringes from affected person
- Accidental needle injuries in healthcare settings
- During birth of a baby if mother has hepatitis C
Though viruses are the most common causes of hepatitis, there are also numerous types of non-viral hepatitis, which includes:
- Alcoholic hepatitis, caused by prolonged alcohol abuse
- Autoimmune hepatitis, in which the immune system attacks healthy liver cells
- Drug-induced hepatitis from medications which includes acetaminophen, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), anabolic steroids, birth control pills, and tetracycline antibiotics
- Hepatitis that results from non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD), a condition that develops when large amounts of fat accumulates in the liver of someone who drinks little to no alcohol and who typically is obese.
Prevention of Hepatitis C
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), approximately 15 to 25 percent of people who become infected with hepatitis C only develop an acute infection, which spontaneously clears from the body within six months.
The other 75 – 85% people go on to become hepatitis C carriers and develop a chronic infection, which can last over a lifetime and could lead to hepatitis C-related liver complications, including chronic liver disease, cirrhosis (irreversible scarring of the liver), and liver cancer.
Men are less likely than women to spontaneously clear an acute infection from their blood, and more likely to develop liver complications from the infection, according to a 2006 article in the journal Gut.
Back in 2012 approximately 21,870 new acute cases of hepatitis C were recorded in the United States, and chronic HCV infections affect about 3.2 million Americans, according to the CDC.
On a global scale2 – 3 % of the world’s population is living with hepatitis C, and about 350,000 people die each year because of complications related to the disease, according to 2012 report in the journal Clinical Infectious Diseases.
About 70 – 80 % of people who become infected with acute hepatitis C do not show any symptoms at first, notes the CDC.
Those who do, however, may have:
- Dark urine
- Gastrointestinal issues
People with chronic hepatitis C, on the other hand, do not normally show any symptoms until the liver is damaged.
The standard treatment for hepatitis C is a combination antiviral drug therapy. This treatment is effective for 50 – 90 % of people, according to World Health Organization.