Hepatitis C symptoms appear in approximately 1 of every 5 individuals who have been infected with the hepatitis C virus. That means 80 percent of those who have hepatitis C are probably unaware of it. When hepatitis C symptoms do appear, they range in severity. They may be mild and barely noticeable, or they may be severe and debilitating.
Fatigue is the most frequently cited symptom of hepatitis C. But there are certainly others, which often appear in combinations.
* pain in the abdomen
* you’ll notice that bowel movements look different, usually lighter or clay colored
* urine is likely to become darker, looking more like a coffee color
* generalized itching
* unusually frequent headaches are likely to occur
* jaundice, a liver problem that makes the skin and eyes turn a shade of yellow
* many people who have hepatitis C experience a loss of appetite
* aching muscles are typical
* hepatitis C often causes vomiting in those who have been infected.
The hepatitis C virus is the cause of hepatitis C. This virus is also commonly known by the abbreviation HCV. Most of the time, an exchange of blood is needed to transmit the virus from one person to another. It is not usually transmitted through sexual contact. The most common means of transmitting the hepatitis C virus in the United States is through the exchange of unclean hypodermic needles by intravenous drug users.
Chronic hepatitis C, which is a serious liver disease, develops in 2 of every 3 people who have an acute hepatitis C infection.
According to recent studies, as many as one person in every thirty worldwide has been infected with the hepatitis C virus. That amounts to approximately 170 million individuals. There’s evidence that 15 percent of the population in some parts of Asia and Africa are infected with hepatitis C. Egypt is believed to have the highest infection rate in the world, exceeding 15 percent.
If you want to make sure you don’t get hepatitis C, all you need to do is follow some common sense guidelines. Hepatitis C is a blood-borne virus, so hepatitis C prevention means avoiding contact with human blood. If you inject illegal drugs, never share a needle with another addict. Do not share toothbrushes, razors or other items that might have blood from a person infected with hepatitis C on them.
If you decide to have any type of body piercing done, make sure all instruments being used are sterilized. The same goes for tattoos. The person performing these procedures should also wear latex gloves and take pains to keep the area disinfected and sanitized.
If you have acupuncture done, make sure the needles are properly sterilized.
Speaking in general terms, anyone who travels abroad usually needn’t worry about hepatitis C. The major danger occurs if you are injured or hospitalized and need a blood transfusion, since blood screening standards in some countries may not meet minimum standards. It bears repeating that anyone traveling overseas who wishes to get a tattoo (as is often done by military personnel) or have body parts pierced, should do so with the greatest regard for sterile practices.
No vaccine currently exists that can prevent a hepatitis C infection once the virus has been transmitted to you. Many people have heard that there’s a hepatitis vaccine, and in fact immune globulin will help protect you against a hepatitis A infection. But it is not effective for hepatitis C.
Every year in the United States, more liver transplants take place because of chronic hepatitis C than for any other cause.
You can have hepatitis C testing done if you think you may have been exposed to the virus. Hepatitis C testing is a good idea even if no hepatitis C symptoms have appeared.