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Saturday, August 10, 2019

What is hepatitis C, causes symptoms and treatment

The one of the most dangerous liver diseases is hepatitis C. Nevertheless, this disease is not a sentence, and it can be cured entirely. what is hepatitis C, and how does it appear, how to treat and how to avoid the disease? The symptoms of the disease - all this is necessary for everyone to know about hepatitis C is briefly explained in this article.

What is hepatitis C ?

Hepatitis is the infection of the liver tissue that is characterized by diffuse or focal necrosis. Hepatitis can be acute or chronic (usually determined by a duration of more than six months.). 
What is hepatitis C
What is hepatitis C, causes symptoms and treatment

Approximately 70 million people have a causative agent. However, only 20% of them know about their disease, and 13% receive active therapy. Many patients don't have information about the danger of their illness. About 400,000 people die from hepatitis C each year.

What is HCV?

This type of disease is caused by a special RNA virus, which was discovered only relatively recently, in the late 80s. Thus, hepatitis C cannot develop if a person has not had contact with this virus.


Hepatitis C virus (HCV) is a small biological formation with a diameter of 30-60 nm. There are 11 virus genotypes, and some genotypes may have several subtypes. Three types of virus are most characteristic of Russia and other European countries, and some types are found only in tropical countries. In Russia, subtype 1b is most common, then subtypes 3, 1a and 2 follow in descending order. Types of viruses differ in their aggressiveness and pathogenicity. The most difficult and dangerous disease is considered to be a disease caused by 1 genotype of the virus. Subtype 1b most often penetrates the body through a blood transfusion.

Causes of the hepatitis C

  • When drug addicts use one syringe for intravenous administration of narcotic substances
  • When performing piercings and tattoos with instruments contaminated with the blood of a patient or carrier of infection
  • When sharing razors, manicure accessories, toothbrushes
  • When the hemodialysis procedure ("artificial kidney" apparatus);
  • During transfusion of blood products (this route of transmission is becoming less and less important since in developed countries blood products are mandatorily tested for the presence of hepatitis C virus)
  • sexual transmission of hepatitis C (with unprotected sexual contact with a virus carrier, the probability of transmission is 3-5%)
Transmission of the infection from the infected mother to the fetus (happens in less than 5% of cases, infection usually occurs during childbirth, when passing the birth canal).
The risk of hepatitis C virus infection during medical manipulations may persist in developing countries. If sanitary norms are grossly violated, then any office where medical manipulations are performed can become a place of infection.

Hepatitis C isn't transmitted by airborne droplets. By shaking hands, hugs, using common utensils, food or drinks. If transmission of infection occurred in everyday life, then there must have been a hit of a blood particle from a patient or carrier of the hepatitis C virus into the blood of the infected person.

Disease development

The immune system produces antibodies to the virus. Events after this can develop in several directions.
If the human immune system is strong enough and/or the virus has not been ingested, then the virus defeats the immune system, and it completely disappears from the body. However, antibodies to the virus can remain in the body for a long time. Such a development of events, however, occurs infrequently - in 10-15% of cases.
In another case, the virus can cause an attack of acute hepatitis C. This event occurs after an incubation period lasting from 2 days to 6 months. The duration of acute hepatitis is, on average, three weeks. However, acute viral hepatitis is rarely diagnosed. Usually, its symptoms are also erased. Nevertheless, although often this form of hepatitis passes quickly, then it becomes chronic.
Finally, a person may develop chronic hepatitis without a preliminary acute phase of the disease. This option is usually the most dangerous, because in such a case, a person for many years may not be aware of the disease.

Symptoms of acute hepatitis C:

  • weakness
  • high temperature (infrequently)
  • decreased appetite
  • nausea
  • vomiting
  • stomach ache
  • jaundice (infrequently)
  • joint pain
  • itchy skin and rashes (infrequently)

Symptoms of chronic hepatitis C:

Hepatitis C is not in vain called a "gentle killer." The thing is that the manifestations of the chronic form of hepatitis are usually extremely scarce, and not every patient and even a doctor is able to recognize hepatitis, its viral form, in time. This situation leads to the fact that many of the patients go to the doctor only when they begin to experience severe liver pathologies (for example, cirrhosis), and doctors are often already unable to help the patient.
Decreased liver function leads to a glut of blood with various toxins. First of all, the brain suffers from this; therefore, in patients with hepatitis C, it is often observed:
  • depression,
  • apathy,
  • irritability,
  • sleep disturbances
  • bitterness in the mouth
  • yellowing of the skin, mucous membranes
  • swelling in the lower extremities
  • problems with blood vessels
  • change in the shape of the fingers (fingers in the form of drum sticks)

Treatment of Hepatitis C

After the diagnosis of hepatitis C is made, the treatment should be carried out by a hepatologist. More recently, the disease was considered incurable, albeit a long-term development. However, this situation has changed with the advent of a new generation of antiviral drugs. The traditional treatment for hepatitis C includes interferons and drug ribavirin. 

Interferons 

Interferons are substances similar to those produced by immune cells to fight the virus. There are various types of interferons. The main functions due to which interferons fight the virus:
  • protection of healthy cells from virus penetration into them,
  • preventing the reproduction of the virus,
  • activation of the immune system.

Treatment with ribavirin and interferons

The duration of treatment with ribavirin and interferons is determined by the doctor. In this case, the daily dose of ribavirin is usually 2000 mg. Injections of interferon are usually carried out three times a week, and interferon prolonged action - 1 time per week. However, the effectiveness of such therapy is poor. Usually, it does not exceed 50%.

Treatment with sofosbuvir, daclatasvir, ledipasvir

Recently, a number of new antiviral compounds have been developed (sofosbuvir, daclatasvir, ledipasvir). These compounds are classified as direct-acting drugs (PDAs). Often, several active compounds (sofosbuvir and ledipasvir, sofosbuvir) are combined in one drug at once. The mechanism of action of PPD is based on the incorporation of the virus into the RNA, which disrupts the synthesis of important proteins used in the process of its replication.

Treatment with PPD 

It is possible to use PPD of various types individually and combining them with each other. Properly selected treatment allows you to destroy the virus in 95% of cases. The course of therapy with these drugs can take from a month to six months - it depends on the type of virus, as well as the degree of development of the disease. However, a decrease in viral activity is observed already from the first days of taking the drugs. With hepatitis not burdened by cirrhosis, the duration of treatment is usually three months. If it is not possible to quickly get rid of the virus, then interferon can be added to the treatment regimen.
The use of drugs of the class of hepatic protectors is aimed at supporting the liver and slowing down the processes of its degradation. Hepatic protectors reduce the rate of formation people active tissue in the liver, strengthen the walls of hepatocytes, prevent the accumulation of fat in the liver, and stimulate the formation of bile. However, hepatic protectors are not able to cure hepatitis; this should be remembered.

Prevention of Hepatitis C

  • It is perhaps impossible to avoid the risk of hepatitis C infection. However, everyone can significantly reduce it. You should avoid visiting beauty salons, dental and medical institutions. 
  • Make sure that disposable syringes and tools are used in all situations.
  • Currently, all donors are being tested for the presence of a virus in their blood. Therefore, the probability of infection during a blood transfusion is close to zero. However, people who received a blood transfusion before the mid-90s, when this check was introduced, could become infected with this procedure. Therefore, they should be checked for the presence of the virus.
  • The probability of infection during sexual intercourse is quite low (3-5%). However, it should not be discounted. 
  • People who regularly use reusable syringes need to ensure that they are not used by strangers. Also, do not use someone else's razors, toothbrushes and other objects that could cause blood. There is no effective vaccine for the virus, although similar studies are underway in many countries, and in some cases, significant progress has been made. The complexity of developing such a vaccine is due to the presence of many virus genotypes. Nevertheless, vaccination with hepatitis A and B vaccines is recommended, since the simultaneous disease of these types of hepatitis significantly complicates the course of hepatitis C.

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