What Is Hepatitis C?


Quick Answer

Hepatitis C is a viral infection that causes inflammation of the liver, according to Mayo Clinic. Hepatitis C is asymptomatic, and the disease may go unnoticed for decades.

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Mayo Clinic notes that hepatitis C poses the most danger within the hepatitis family. The virus is commonly contracted through shared needles and contaminated blood. Symptoms usually do not show in the early stages, but fatigue, muscle aches and nausea are common signs of the illness in the later stages. Another primary symptom is jaundice, which is a condition that yellows the skin and causes discoloration of the eyes.

MedicineNet.com adds that symptoms usually show when pronounced scarring occurs on the liver, otherwise known as cirrhosis, but fatigue and fever may happen without liver damage. Other organs in the body may become affected in some patients. More than 80 percent of patients who live with hepatitis C fail to expel the virus from their bodies, which causes them to suffer from chronic ailments. A biopsy is usually performed to determine the extent of liver damage, and blood and viral RNA testing can lead to a diagnosis.

WebMD reports that surgery fails to cure a patient, but a liver transplant may become necessary. There are also medicines for the liver to mitigate the damage.

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