- Hepatitis is inflammation of the liver, a large organ located in the right subcostal area.
- Hepatitis C is a disease caused by the hepatitis C virus. The disease mainly affects the liver, but can also damage other important organs, such as the kidneys or thyroid gland. If, after infection with the hepatitis C virus, a person's body has not been able to cope with it on its own and the virus continues to multiply for more than 6 months, it means that the disease has become chronic. Chronic hepatitis C occurs quite often, on average, in 3 out of 4 people. One in four people will have the disease on their own and often find out about it by chance many years later.
- Hepatitis C virus is found in large quantities in the blood and other body fluids of an infected person. Infection most often occurs when the blood of an infected person gets into the blood or onto the damaged skin (mucous membranes) of another person.
- People using injectable drugs are at the highest risk of contracting the hepatitis C virus. People who get infected through tattooing, piercing, cosmetic procedures, manicures or pedicures if non-sterile needles or other instruments are used in salons.
- At home, you can become infected by sharing razors (with razor blades) and manicure (pedicure) equipment with other family members. Blood particles can remain on the surface of tools and, in case of microtrauma, the virus can enter the wound and cause illness.
- Hepatitis C virus is transmitted sexually and from an infected mother to her baby during pregnancy or childbirth.
- 1 Refrain from tattooing, piercing or unreasonable cosmetic procedures and, in the case of such procedures, seek the services of licensed providers who have been trained in safe working practices and use disposable or reusable sterilized tools.
- 2 Use only your own razors, manicure (pedicure) kit, toothbrushes, towels and other hygiene products at home and do not allow other family members to use them.
- 3 To prevent sexual transmission, use barrier protection (condoms).
- 4 Women should be tested for hepatitis C virus before planning a pregnancy.
Hepatitis C can only be detected by special tests, which can be divided into 3 groups:
- 1 blood tests that show whether you are currently infected with the virus or have had hepatitis C previously;
- 2 blood tests that reflect inflammation in the liver as well as liver function;
- 3 tests that help assess the size of the liver, the condition of its tissue and other abdominal organs.
The main importance belongs to the first group. These are primarily tests for antibodies that are produced in the body in response to the appearance of the virus. The prefix anti- is more commonly used to refer to antibodies. The full definition is: anti-HCV.
Antibodies come in two classes, IgG and IgM (Ig - immunoglobulin - is the Latin name for antibodies). The main class of antibodies is apti-HCV IgG, which is produced in both acute and chronic hepatitis C. The apti-HCV IgG test (sometimes only apti-HCV is indicated) is given to all patients who wish to check whether they have hepatitis C. These antibodies are also found in those who have previously had hepatitis C and have recovered on their own or in those who have been cured by taking specific antiviral medications. Therefore, if a person tests positive for anti-HCV, this is not enough to make a diagnosis of hepatitis C. A comprehensive examination is necessary, which must include a blood test for RNA of the virus.
There are qualitative and quantitative tests for hepatitis C virus RNA. A positive qualitative test indicates the presence of the virus in the body. A quantitative test shows its level, i.e. the concentration in the blood.
The laboratory and instrumental tests needed to diagnose hepatitis C are prescribed by your doctor.
- 1 The hepatitis C virus is not transmitted by shaking hands, hugging, kissing, sharing kitchen utensils and cutlery, or sharing bed linen.
- 2 If any family member and/or people living together have been found to have the hepatitis C virus (anti-HCV) antibodies or the hepatitis C virus RNA, all other people at risk of being infected should have a blood test for hepatitis C virus antibodies (anti-HCV) and hepatitis C virus RNA.
- 3 A blood test for the hepatitis C virus RNA should be performed on all children born to mothers who have been infected with the hepatitis C virus.
- 4 In a stable monogamous relationship within the family, the risk of infection with the hepatitis C virus is low. However, the use of condoms is recommended in order to rule out the infection completely.
Mother-to-child transmission of the hepatitis C virus is possible but infrequent.
The initiation with the hepatitis C virus does not affect the mode of delivery (both natural and artificial births are possible). Breastfeeding is allowed.
- 6 All doctors should be informed of infection with the hepatitis C virus, especially those who are going to have procedures such as dental treatment or surgery.
- 7 Anyone infected with the hepatitis C virus should completely avoid alcohol, as alcohol consumption contributes to liver damage more quickly.
- 8 There are no dietary recommendations during the early stages of the disease. A special diet is only necessary in the later stages of hepatitis C and if cirrhosis is detected.
- 9 There are no restrictions regarding sporting activities if you have hepatitis C, but contact sports that involve injuries (boxing, wrestling, etc.) may cause skin injuries and blood to enter the mucous membranes or the defeated skin of another person, which could lead to infection.