This disorder is a disease of the liver, which is caused by the hepatitis C virus, also known as HCV. The early symptoms of this disease may be extreme fatigue, which the patient may ignore until they develop other symptoms. These later symptoms include abdominal pain, clay colored stools, darker colored urine and the skin turning yellow, which is called jaundice. Of the patients who have acute hepatitis C about 25% will be able to make a complete recovery. Unfortunately the remaining percentage will be stuck with it permanently. This is termed as chronic hepatitis C. Several years ago, the most common way that hepatitis C was transferred to other patients was thought to be tainted blood used in transfusions, but nowdays the blood testing procedures have improved considerably, and the risk is now very small.
These days the highest risk group is illegal drug users. The sharing of any equipment or appliance which has any blood or bodily fluids on it when taking drugs is a simple way of transferring this disease. The puzzling aspect of chronic hepatitis C is that a percentage of people can have the disease but not be bothered by it at all, as it can lie dormant for several years. In fact, these people may only find out about it when they need to have a blood test for some reason. Any patient who has chronic hepatitis C will eventually develop cirrhosis of the liver. This will do irreparable damage and cause scarring which stops the liver functioning correctly. Fortunately this can take a long time to occur, as long as 20 years from when the disease first appears.
A number of these patients can go on to develop liver cancer, but again this can take a very long time to appear. Because there is no vaccine to hepatitis C, trying to prevent it occurring in the first place is the only thing that an individual can do to lessen the risk factors. The easiest way to avoid contracting hepatitis is basic cleanliness and vaccinations. Contracting any disease is frightening, but hepatitis can be more traumatic because of its confusing nature and also because you might not show any symptoms of having it.