Hepatitis C

What is hepatitis C infection:

It is the type of hepatitis caused by hepatitis-C virus. It is one of the common causes of chronic hepatitis. It takes long time to produce its full blown effect i.e. liver cirrhosis & its complications.

Incidence of Hepatitis C in Bangladesh.

About 1%-3% of population of Bangladesh have Hepatitis-C infection.

Symptoms of Hepatitis-C:

In most of the patients there may be no symptoms, The following symptoms may be either individual or in combination

@ Fatigue, loss of appetite, feeling sick & weight loss, flue like fever, chills, headache.

@ Mild pain in the liver area.

@ Jaundice, ascites, bleeding, loss of consciousness in advanced stage.

How hepatitis C spreads.

@ Contact with blood and other body fluids— most common causes are.

@ Transfusion of blood & blood products.

@ Contact of infected blood with cut surface or open wound.

@ Surgeons specially dental surgeons, nurse, dialysis unit workers.

@ Parenteral drug abusers

@ About 50%-80% of present and past drug abusers & those shared needle..

@ Tattoo, acupuncture, ear, nose & body pricking

@ Use of unsterile infected needles & sharp materials for pricking purposes.

@ Social contact.

@ By sharing scissors, towels and shaving with common razor in the hair cutting saloon.

@ Transmission through sex.

@ Sexual transmission through unprotected sex is less but it occasionally occur.

@ Breast feeding & saliva

@ It is less but possible if there is crack nipple.

@ Mother to baby transmission

@ The risk of transmitting the baby from mother is about 6%, which may occur within the womb, during delivery or after birth.

How to prevent it:

It should be kept in mind that there is no vaccine currently available against hepatitis-C virus. So awareness & personal protection is the only  way to avoid this disease.

Some advise  :

@ Strict screening of blood and blood products for Hepatitis-C before any transfusion.

@ Use of own toothbrush, razor, scissors & other personal items.

@ Practicing of safer sex.(Barrier method)

@ HCV positive should never donate blood and register as organ donor.

@ Ensuring the use of sterile needles, syringe for various purposes.

@ Extreme precautions by medical,surgical dental & nursing staff against needle stick injury or blood spillage.

Treatment : Consult liver specialist (hepatologist) for evaluation and treatment. Hepatitis C infection may remain silent without any symptom for long time(many years). Treatment is costly and may take long period.

Remember: Regular assessment is needed to detect whether liver damage is progressing and to plan the appropriate treatment in due time.