Preventive Healthcare

Hepatitis C Virus (HCV) Infection Diagnosis, its Causes, Symptoms, and Treatment

Several blood-borne infections can pass on from one individual to the other irrespective of the fact that person may not have any symptoms. This is because Hepatitis C Virus or HCV may not exhibit symptoms even at an acute stage. No wonder, then, that it is also often referred to as a silent epidemic.

About Hepatitis C (HCV) Infection

HCV infection is caused by Hepatitis C Virus (HCV), resulting in swelling and damage to the liver. Such is the silent nature of the disease that one in two individuals with HCV infection may not experience symptoms for decades after contracting HCV. Without HCV treatment, the chances of the spread more than double. 

HCV infection progresses through different stages. The period between HCV entering the body and the start of the Hepatitis C disease is called the incubation stage. The next stage lasts for about six months and is termed Acute infection.

Few patients with acute Hepatitis C may get rid of the HCV infection without moving to the chronic stage. Over 85 percent of patients in the acute phase may enter the chronic stage, leading to severe conditions such as cirrhosis or liver cancer.  

Early diagnosis and medication are known to be effective in curing the infection. Hence, HCV screening is advisable for people at high risk

How Can You Get an HCV infection?

The Hepatitis C Virus enters your body through infected syringes and blood transfusion. Sharing personal items like toothbrushes, shaving razors, or nail clippers will make you more likely to contract the disease but this is rare.

In addition, individuals with multiple sex partners can get HCV if they are not taking precautions like using condoms. An infected person’s partner is equally at risk of being infected with the Hep C virus.

What are the Hepatitis C (HCV) Symptoms?

As mentioned earlier, you may not exhibit any HCV symptoms despite an active Hepatitis C infection. It may take two weeks to six months for the initial symptoms to surface. In certain cases, though, symptoms remain mysteriously absent even at the stage where the infection has turned chronic. It is only when HCV begins to damage the liver that you experience severe symptoms.

An acute HCV infection comes with the following symptoms:

  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Pain in the abdomen
  • Appetite loss
  • Yellowing of skin, eyes, and urine
  • Poop having clay colour
  • Fever
  • Weakness

Symptoms of chronic HCV infection are more serious. Chronic HCV infection causes scarring of liver tissues and may lead to cancer.

Why is HCV Screening Crucial?

Chronic HCV infection can damage the liver and patients may end up with terminal illnesses like liver cirrhosis or cancer. HCV testing involves  detection of HCV antibody Simple and quick testHCV screening involves a simple blood test to determine if you have the infection. In addition, the physician may recommend a repeat test to rule out the probability of a chronic infection. High-risk individuals should consider a repeat HCV test even if the first test was negative as HCV antibody take some time to rise after exposure

Confirmation through PCR

If you have a positive HCV antibody test it is advisable to get a HCV PCR test done to confirm diagnosis.The PCR test involves the detection of RNA, a type of genetic material. A quantitative  HCV RNA PCR test measures the viral load in patients who test positive for the anti-HCV screening test. It is also helpful in assessing the effectiveness of the antiviral treatment for HCV infection. Visit us for HCV RNA Detection Test.

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