A brief primer on hepatitis C

A brief primer on hepatitis C

Hepatitis C is a kind of infection that can cause inflammation, which might result in serious complications. The virus can spread through contaminated blood. It is a liver infection that can turn into a lifelong disease if left untreated. The most common way to get this disease is by sharing needles or equipment that is used to inject drugs. To help you, here is a primer on causes, symptoms, and treatment options for hepatitis C.

Causes
Hepatitis C is caused by the Hepatitis C virus, also known as HCV. One can contract this infection if they come in contact with contaminated blood and the virus enters the bloodstream. Viral infections can cause hepatitis easily. It is the most common blood-borne viral infection that is typically a long-term condition.

Symptoms
If one has a long-term infection with the hepatitis C virus, the liver will show the following signs.

  • Fatigue and poor appetite
  • Bleeding and bruising easily
  • Discoloration of the skin as well as itchy skin
  • Fluid build-up in the abdomen
  • Weight loss and swelling in the legs
  • Dark-colored urine
  • Spiderlike blood vessels
  • Frequent drowsiness
  • Dark stool
  • Abdominal pain

The infection starts with the acute phase, but if left undiagnosed, it can cause jaundice, nausea, fever, and muscle aches.

Treatment
Hepatitis C can be treated using drugs known as antivirals. FDA-approved, Glecaprevir and Pibrentasvir are daily pills that offer short-term treatment for adults. The length of the treatment depends upon the stage of the disease. Some other medicines that can cure Hepatitis C include the following.

  • Grazoprevir can cure the disease in 8 to 12 weeks.
  • Sofosbuvir/Velpatasvir/Voxilaprevir can treat chronic HCV in a decent period of time.
  • Other treatment options include Peginterferon, Daclatasvir, and Ombitasvir-Paritaprevir-Ritonavir.

Doctors can prescribe medication based on the type of HCV. One can also claim insurance for these medicines. Other than antiviral medications, Hepatitis C can be treated through other ways such as the following.

Liver transplant
If the body doesn’t respond to medications, doctors might suggest undergoing liver transplantation. Mostly, a liver transplant alone doesn’t cure Hepatitis C because there are chances that the infection might appear again. In such cases, one may have to choose a combination of medicines once the transplant is done.

Vaccinations
There is no direct vaccination for Hepatitis C. Doctors recommend getting vaccines against the disease. There are other viruses also that can cause liver damage and might interfere with the course of chronic Hepatitis C.

Foods to eat
Though people with hepatitis C don’t require a special meal plan, some food items can help in maintaining good liver health.

Fruits and vegetables
One should consume a balanced meal plan that includes a variety of fruit and vegetables. Instead of canned or frozen items, one should choose fresh fruits. Green leafy vegetables such as kale, spinach, and cabbage are also recommended as they are a good source of iron.

Protein
Getting the optimum amount of protein is important. It keeps a person feeling full. Good sources of protein are eggs, fish, turkey, cheese, beans, and nuts.

Complex carbohydrates
One should consume cereals, bread, and grains that are good sources of complex carbohydrates.

Avoid full-fat dairy products, fast food, and cookies. The intake of salt, sugar, and iron should also be limited in case one has a liver infection. One should also avoid fatty foods and alcohol to maintain liver health.

Conclusion
Hepatitis C doesn’t require you to have any special meal plan unless your liver is severely affected. A healthy lifestyle and balanced nutrition can help you lead a comfortable life. You should also take vaccines for the flu, hepatitis A and B, as well as pneumonia. You can talk to your doctor before taking any prescription or non-prescription medicines. Lastly, try reducing your exposure to unfiltered water and raw fruits, and avoid sharing needles.