07 May
Hepatitis C virus can cause chronic liver disease which may progress to liver cirrhosis and liver cancer.


• Hepatitis C is a viral infection that attacks the liver and can cause both acute and chronic disease. 
• The virus is transmitted through contact with the blood or other body fluids of an infected person - not through casual contact. 
• Vaccine for Hepatitis C is not available yet.

Who is most at risk for Hepatitis C?

Anyone can get hepatitis C, but some people are at higher risk, including

• children who were born to a mother with hepatitis C
• people who have more than one sex partner or have a history of sexually transmitted disease
• people who had a blood transfusion or organ transplant before July 1992
• people who have used illegal injection drugs

How could I get Hepatitis C?

You could get hepatitis C through contact with an infected person’s blood. You could get hepatitis C from

• being born to a mother with hepatitis C
• having sex with an infected person
• being tattooed or pierced with unsterilized tools that were used on an infected person
• getting an accidental needle stick with a needle that was used on an infected person
• using an infected person’s razor or toothbrush
• sharing drug needles with an infected person

What are the symptoms of Hepatitis C?

Most people have no symptoms until the virus causes liver damage, which can take even 10 or more years to happen. Others have one or more of the following symptoms:

• yellowish eyes and skin, called jaundice
• dark colored urine
• easy bruising
• tiredness
• upset stomach
• fever
• loss of appetite
• diarrhea 
• a longer than usual amount of time for bleeding to stop
• swollen stomach or ankles

What is Chronic Hepatitis C?

Hepatitis C is chronic when the body can’t get rid of the hepatitis C virus. Although some people clear the virus from their bodies in a few months, most hepatitis C infections become chronic. Without treatment, chronic hepatitis C can cause scarring of the liver, called cirrhosis, liver cancer and liver failure.

How is Hepatitis C diagnosed?

Hepatitis C is diagnosed through blood tests. The scan, such as ultrasound, CT scan or MRI will look at the liver to detect any nodule within your liver. The stiffness of the liver (fibrosis or cirrhosis) is assessed by a special scan called fibroscan. Sometimes, liver biopsy is required to assess the degree of liver damage, in particular the inflammation and fibrosis.

How is Hepatitis C treated?

Hepatitis C is treated when it becomes chronic. Chronic hepatitis C is treated with drugs that slow or stop the virus from damaging the liver.

We advice patients to avoid alcohol, traditional medicines, slimming pills as these substances may cause additional liver damage.

A liver transplant may be necessary if chronic hepatitis C causes liver failure. Liver transplantation replaces a failed liver with a healthy one from a donor. Drug treatment often must continue because hepatitis C usually comes back after surgery.

How can I avoid getting Hepatitis C?

You can protect yourself and others from hepatitis C if you

• do not share drug needles
• wear gloves if you have to touch another person’s blood
• use a mechanical barrier, condom during sex
• do not borrow another person’s toothbrush, razor, or anything else that could have blood on it
• make sure any tattoos or body piercings you get are done with sterile tools

What should I do if I think I have been exposed to the Hepatitis C virus?

See your doctor and get tested if you are at higher risk of getting hepatitis C or if you think you were exposed to the hepatitis C virus. Many people do not know they are infected. Early diagnosis and treatment can help prevent liver damage.

Dr. Andrea

Dr. Andrea Rajnakova is our Consultant Gastroenterologist and Physician.


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