Hepatitis C

What is Hepatitis C?

Hepatitis C, a liver infection caused by the hepatitis C virus, silently affects 2.4 million Americans. Most remain unaware, as symptoms often go unnoticed. This stealthy virus, primarily spread through blood or body fluids, primarily takes the form of type 1 in the U.S., with varying treatment responses.
The Stages of a Hidden Battle:
The Hepatitis C journey unfolds in stages:
  • Incubation: A silent period of 14 to 80 days (average 45) after exposure.
  • Acute Phase: A temporary illness during the first 6 months, where some may spontaneously clear the virus.
  • Chronic Phase: For most (85%), the virus persists beyond 6 months, potentially leading to severe complications like liver cancer or cirrhosis.
  • Cirrhosis: Over time, inflammation scars the liver, taking 20-30 years on average but potentially faster with alcohol or HIV.
  • Liver Cancer: Cirrhosis increases the risk, necessitating regular screening due to early stage symptom scarcity.

What are causes of Hepatitis C?

Hepatitis C spreads when blood or body fluids contaminated with the hepatitis C virus get into your bloodstream through contact with an infected person.
You can be exposed to the virus from:
  • Sharing injection drugs and needles
  • Sexual contact
  • Needle sticks
  • Mother-to-child transmission
  • Sharing personal item
  • Unclean tattoo or piercing tools

What are symptoms of Hepatitis C?

Many people with hepatitis C have no symptoms. But between 2 weeks and 6 months after the virus enters your bloodstream, you could notice:
  • Clay-colored poop
  • Dark urine
  • Fever
  • Fatigue
  • Jaundice
  • Joint pain
  • Loss of appetite
  • Nausea
  • Stomach pain
  • Vomiting
Symptoms usually last for 2 to 12 weeks

How to diagnose Hepatitis C?

Anti-HCV antibodies
If your antibody test is positive, you’ll get this test:
The results can be:
  • Negative: You don’t have hep C.
  • Positive: You currently have hep C.
Liver function tests

How to treat Hepatitis C?

While early Hepatitis C infection, known as acute hepatitis C, currently lacks recommended treatment, its transition to chronic form brings various medication options to the table such as:
  • Zepatier
  • Mavyret
  • Harvoni
  • Sovaldi
  • Epclusa
  • Vosevi
“Thank you for visiting Forest Hills Gastroenterology & Liver Disease, my goal is to treat my patients in a highly personalized manner and I am dedicated to give you the utmost attention and respect that you deserve. For more infromation on this disease or to schedule a consultation with me, please give us a call or book a tele-health appointment online.”

Albert Shalomov

Dr. Albert Shalomov, MD