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An introduction to hepatitis C

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hepatitis C

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  • Discovered in 1989, hepatitis C is a dangerous liver infection caused by the hepatitis C virus, which can spread through blood-to-blood contact, such as through blood infusions or sharing of contaminated needles
  • Staying well-educated about this ailment, plus learning to listen to your body for potential warning signs, is the best way to avoid hepatitis C

Discovered in 1989,1 hepatitis C is a dangerous liver infection caused by the hepatitis C virus, which can spread through blood-to-blood contact, such as through blood infusions or sharing of contaminated needles. It ranges in severity — the disease can manifest as a mild illness that lasts only a few weeks or months, or it may progress into a serious lifelong illness.2 Discover more important facts about this disease.

Hepatitis C attacks your liver

The liver is one of the hardest-working organs in your body, as it performs a variety of functions. According to WebMD, it works with other organs to digest food and secretes bile, although its main role is to filter out and eliminate harmful toxins from your blood.3 It’s even referred to as the “Grand Central Station” of your body — all the nutrients that enter your intestines go through the liver.4

So, if a potentially dangerous disease like hepatitis C threatens to destroy your liver — and your overall health — then you need to take the necessary actions to ensure that your liver continues to function properly.

Hepatitis C statistics: How prevalent is this disease?

Approximately 2.4 million people in the country are dealing with chronic hepatitis C,5 although a 2015 study notes that the number could be higher — as much as 4.6 million.6 Of all these infected, 51% are unaware of their condition — until it’s too late.7

The numbers are more alarming globally. In 2015, an estimated 71.1 million people worldwide are dealing with this disease.8 Hepatitis C cases are highly prevalent in areas like North Africa, Central and East Asia and the Middle East.9 According to a 2016 World of Gastroenterology study, the countries with high rates of chronic hepatitis C infections include Egypt (14.7%), Iraq (3.2%) and Yemen (2.2%).10

Hepatitis C patients show no symptoms until the disease has already worsened

It can be difficult to diagnose acute hepatitis C because it lacks definitive symptoms. In fact, 60% to 70% of people who become infected are asymptomatic, or exhibit no symptoms.11 The incubation period (time from exposure to the onset of symptoms) is between two weeks and six months.12

Should symptoms manifest, they are usually similar to those of other viral infections. These include abdominal pain, joint pain, fever, nausea and fatigue. In some cases, jaundice (yellowing of the skin and eyes) and clay-colored stools may also be seen.13,14

However, once the virus stays in your blood for a year after the acute infection period, it becomes a chronic infection. This is what makes this disease extremely damaging because if left untreated, it can lead to cirrhosis, liver failure or liver cancer.15 Hepatitis C is one of the most common causes of chronic liver disease.16

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If you love your liver and your health, read these articles right away

Because there are usually no telltale signs until it’s too late, hepatitis C is a potentially dangerous disease that you should be aware of. Staying well-educated about this ailment, plus learning to listen to your body for potential warning signs, is the best way to avoid hepatitis C or, if you already have it, severe complications from it.

These articles will provide you with substantial information about hepatitis C and help you learn more about its symptoms, risk factors, causes and what hepatitis C can do to your body. You’ll also discover useful pointers on how you can live with hepatitis C, as well as how to prevent this ailment from damaging your liver — and overall health.

MORE ABOUT HEPATITIS C

Hepatitis C: Introduction

What Is Hepatitis C?

Hepatitis C in Pregnancy

How Do You Get Hepatitis C?

Hepatitis C Duration

Is Hepatitis C Contagious?

Hepatitis C Causes

Hepatitis C Types

Hepatitis C Symptoms

Hepatitis C Treatment

Hepatitis C Prevention

Hepatitis C Diet

Hepatitis C FAQ



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What Is Hepatitis C?