The liver is an organ that plays an essential role in protein synthesis, blood sugar regulation, immune function, and hormone maintenance. Hepatitis refers to inflammation of liver tissue and hepatocytes, and is divided into acute and chronic according to the duration. In addition, depending on the type of virus to be infected, it is divided into types A, B, and C, and among them, hepatitis C refers to an inflammatory disease of the liver caused by infection with the hepatitis C virus. Hepatitis C can spread the virus to the surroundings because there are no special symptoms even if it is infected, and if treatment is delayed or left untreated, it increases the risk of developing liver cancer, a cancer with the lowest 10-year survival rate, so caution and management are required. Hepatitis C is transmitted mainly through blood, and it can also be transmitted through body fluids infected with the hepatitis C virus. The hepatitis C virus enters the blood through blood-based medicines and transfusions, the use of contaminated syringes, the use of unsterilized saliva, and sexual contact. Afterwards, the virus that invades the body is mainly present in the liver cells, and it can be said that the liver becomes inflamed as the liver cells that cause the immune response in our body are destroyed to remove the virus. Now, let’s learn about the various symptoms, treatment, and prevention of hepatitis C.
Hepatitis C main symptoms
Hepatitis C is often unaware of the fact that there are no specific symptoms even after infection, and symptoms such as general fatigue and low fever gradually develop thereafter. In addition, symptoms similar to colds such as muscle pain, cough, and runny nose appear, and at the same time, overall abnormal symptoms of the digestive system such as nausea, vomiting, loss of appetite, abdominal discomfort, and diarrhea may occur. And as the disease progresses, some patients feel systemic symptoms, and the color of urine becomes dark. As the condition worsens, symptoms such as jaundice and itching may appear, in which the eyes and skin turn yellow. In the case of acute, it is known to recover to normal within 4 to 6 months, but hepatitis C is rarely eliminated from our body naturally, so it often progresses to chronicity. 70-80% of patients progress to chronic, and once it progresses to chronic, there is rarely a spontaneous cure. In chronic hepatitis C, hepatitis C bacteria introduced into the body continue to inflame without being completely destroyed, causing continuous liver damage. In addition, it has been known that the destruction and regeneration of hepatocytes are repeated and liver fibrosis progresses, increasing the risk of complications such as cirrhosis and liver cancer. Hepatitis C virus, which causes hepatitis C, is known to be difficult to prevent using a vaccine because it has a form of a mutant virus. However, early diagnosis and treatment are very important as it is known that a complete cure can be achieved with good treatment.
How to treat and prevent hepatitis C
1. Examination and treatment
Diagnosis can be made by a blood test that detects antibodies to the hepatitis C virus or RNA from the hepatitis C virus. If the inflammatory response in liver biopsy is more than severe or the serum HCA RNA is positive, treatment with drugs such as ribavirin and pegylate interferon will be considered after a detailed examination. It can be expected that these drugs will be administered for 24 to 48 weeks to completely eliminate hepatitis C. In addition, unlike hepatitis B, there is no vaccine developed for hepatitis C, and there is no immunoglobulin.
2. Drinking and Smoking Restrictions
Alcohol consumption should be limited as it can adversely affect treatment by causing liver dysfunction. In addition, it is recommended to limit smoking because it can worsen symptoms and cause cancer due to the effects of various harmful substances introduced into the body. In addition, it is important for chronic hepatitis C patients to maintain an appropriate weight through proper weight control habit, as the effectiveness of treatment may be reduced if fatty liver or obesity is accompanied.
3. Prevention of infection through blood and body fluids
Because hepatitis C is mainly transmitted through blood or body fluids, it is important not to share needles, piercing instruments, or needles, and use separate razors, toothbrushes, and nail clippers. In addition, during the acute onset or exacerbation of hepatitis C, excessive physical activity may cause problems in normal recovery, so it is recommended to take a break. Other medicines, herbal medicines, and health functional foods can cause liver function deterioration, so it is a good way to decide whether to use it in consultation with a specialist.