What is Hepatitis C?

 A brief history of viral hepatitis
Several different viruses can cause hepatitis. The most common are hepatitis A, B and C. These viruses pass from person to person through different means, cause damage to the liver in different ways and have different effects on your health.

All of these viruses can cause an acute (short-term) disease, with symptoms lasting several weeks – including yellowing of the skin and eyes (jaundice), dark urine, extreme fatigue, nausea and vomiting, and possibly abdominal pain. Some of these viruses can also cause long-term (chronic) problems.

What is Hepatitis C
This is sometimes known as Hep C or HCV the hepatitis C virus was discovered in 1989. We still have a lot to learn about the virus and how to predict who will have long-term health problems. As with other hepatitis viruses, there is an acute stage of illness, but most people notice no symptoms. About 20% of people clear the virus completely from their body, but the other 80% go on to develop long-term infection with hepatitis C.

The course of hepatitis C infection varies from person to person. Most people will have no symptoms for a long time. Some however feel tired and out of sorts with a general feeling of ill health, lack of energy and depression. There does not seem to be a link between these symptoms and a progression to liver disease. Most cases of hepatitis C now occur in people who use contaminated needles or injection equipment for drug use. It is particularly easy for people who share contaminated works to contract hepatitis C. In some cases the physicians really do not know how the transmission occurs. It is difficult – but not impossible – to transmit hepatitis C by unprotected sexual intercourse.

 For further information on Hepatitis C you can access the Scottish Intercollegiate Guidelines Network (SIGN) website to see the full guideline, a quick reference guide and the Patient Information Leaflet.  Go to : 

http://www.sign.ac.uk/guidelines/fulltext/92/index.html

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