What is Hepatitis?
Hepatitis is a disease of the liver that is manifested by inflammation of the liver. Through inflammation, hepatocytes, the most important cells of the liver are affected.
Hepatitis can have several causes but is most often caused by a viral infection. Hepatitis is divided into acute hepatitis, rapid forms with specific symptoms, and chronic hepatitis, which can often be asymptomatic and difficult to detect.
Acute hepatitis, usually caused by the hepatitis A virus, is manifested by symptoms such as yellowing of the skin and eyes (jaundice), fatigue, nausea or vomiting. Chronic hepatitis can only be caused by viruses B, C and D and can go unnoticed but can lead to much more serious diseases over time.
Viruses that cause viral hepatitis B C and D are also dangerous because they are highly transmissible, with hepatitis B being more easily transmitted through blood or sexual contact than HIV.
Fortunately, there are treatments for hepatitis B and C and for Hepatitis B there is also a vaccine.
Hepatitis C is a disease caused by a virus discovered in 1989. Due to the late discovery of the disease, it was undetected for a long time and spread for a long time, including through blood transfusions. In Romania it is estimated that 3% of the population is infected with the hepatitis C virus.
Hepatitis C virus is ten times more transmissible than HIV. The main routes of transmission are from mother to child during birth, through unprotected sexual contact or through contact with the blood or other fluids (semen, saliva, other secretions) of an infected person.
Hepatitis C virus is transmitted through reused syringes (in the case of drug users), through sexual contact or the use of personal hygiene items, or through needles and instruments used for piercing or unsterilized tattoos. In rare cases, the C virus infection has been acquired through in-hospital infection. A number of people have acquired the infection through transfusions that took place before 1995, when testing for the hepatitis C virus began for all blood donors. Birth infection is rare, and occurs in only 3% of cases.
Hepatitis C virus is not transmitted through air, water or food, by coughing or touching.
The evolution of the disease
Most of the time, hepatitis C has no symptoms in its acute phase. In some cases, symptoms such as yellowing of the skin and eyes, fatigue or digestive disorders may occur, but most of the time this goes unnoticed. Hepatitis C becomes chronic in 80% of cases, the virus being present in the liver and causing long-term problems.
The most common problem caused by chronic hepatitis C infection is cirrhosis in 30% of cases. Cirrhosis can lead to other complications such as liver cancer.
Aggravating factors for Hepatitis C are:
- Alcohol consumption
- Drug use
- Infections with other hepatitis viruses or HIV
- Old age
What can I do?
If you want to be tested for hepatitis C, contact your family doctor and ask for more information about testing programs in Romania. Early detection of Hepatitis C Virus infection can significantly improve the prognosis of the disease.
How can I treat myself?
If you are diagnosed with hepatitis C it is extremely important to consult a doctor for treatment. Hepatitis C is treated with Interferon.
How can I prevent hepatitis C virus infection?
Because there is no vaccine for Hepatitis C, the only safe way to prevent it is as a precaution. Do not use personal hygiene items with other people, always practice safe sex and avoid situations where you may come into contact with other people’s blood.