Prognosis for Hepatitis C

About Hepatitis C:

Hepatitis C is a viral infection that affects the liver. An individual with chronic hepatitis C can end up having an inflamed liver which can cause variety of complications even though the individual may not even know that he or she has a hepatitis C virus. It is only when the liver gets damaged the symptoms of hepatitis C start to show up. This significantly dents the treatment options and the overall prognosis of the patient.[2]

Hepatitis C viral infections are basically of two types, namely acute and chronic. Studies suggest that around 80% cases of acute hepatitis C go on to become chronic. In other instances, the immune system of the body clears away the infection. A diagnosis of hepatitis C is made through routine blood tests or when the symptoms, especially related to liver damage begin to appear. This usually happens when the individual has had hepatitis C virus for many years.[2]

Hepatitis C infection requires prompt treatment to prevent further damage to the liver and other serious complications. If the infection causes scarring of the liver then the prognosis of the individual gets severely affected. It is vitally important to note how hepatitis C virus gets transmitted. The primary mode of transmission of this virus is through blood. Therefore, an individual using unsterilized syringes as seen with recreational drug abusers is prone to be affected with this virus.[1]

Some people also tend to get this virus in hospital settings when they are injected by an infected syringe. Blood transfusions are also one of the major ways through which hepatitis C virus can be transmitted. Unprotected sexual intercourse which may cause bleeding may also at times cause an individual to get infected with hepatitis C virus. It should be noted here that this virus does not spread through casual contact like kissing or hugging.[1] This article gives an overview of the overall prognosis of hepatitis C viral infection.

Prognosis For Hepatitis C

Acute Hepatitis C Viral Infection: Acute form of hepatitis C is generally short lived and in mild cases the immune system takes care of the infection. In these instances, the prognosis of the patient, if the condition is diagnosed and treated early, is quite good. There is hardly any mortality associated with acute hepatitis C infection, unless it remains undiagnosed and goes to become chronic. This may happen within about a year if the condition is not treated.[2]

Chronic Hepatitis C Viral Infection (Without Liver Damage): If chronic hepatitis C infection is diagnosed and treated early enough, the prognosis is quite good. However, if the condition remains undiagnosed and there is scarring and damage to the liver then the prognosis becomes somewhat guarded. Majority of the people with hepatitis C infection without liver damage tend to live a normal life without any complications, especially if the condition is diagnosed and treated early.[2]

Chronic Hepatitis C Infection (With Liver Damage): This is the most serious scenario when dealing with hepatitis C infections. The center for Disease Control states that around 20% of people with untreated chronic hepatitis C infection tend to have liver damage and end up having cirrhosis. The prognosis in such people is decided based on how rapidly cirrhosis advances.[2]

There are certain factors that determine how quickly cirrhosis advances. It has been observed that cirrhosis advances much rapidly in males than females. The presence of nonalcoholic fatty liver disease is also responsible for rapid progression of cirrhosis. People who abuse alcohol and are above the age of 50 are prone to developing cirrhosis. The CDC also states that about 5% of people with cirrhosis with hepatitis C infection go on to develop liver cancer and are also at increased risk for liver failure. This makes the overall prognosis of the patient extremely poor.[2]

It shows that hepatitis C infection alone does not affect the mortality of an individual but when it occurs with liver damage or cirrhosis then the prognosis of the individual becomes poor depending on the stage of the condition.[2]

In conclusion, hepatitis is a bloodborne infection that is transmitted normally due to use of unsterilized injections or blood transfusions. This infection can be either acute or chronic. Acute infections that are mild are generally cleared away by the immune system of the body. However, if the condition remains undiagnosed and untreated, it can go on to become chronic and inflict severe damage to the liver.[1,2]

The prognosis for acute hepatitis CV infection is quite good if the symptoms are mild or the condition gets diagnosed and treated. In cases of chronic hepatitis C infections, as long as the liver does not get damaged and the condition is treated, the prognosis is quite good. However, if the condition remains undiagnosed and there is scarring of the liver then the prognosis of the patient becomes quite poor.[1,2]

Thus, it is recommended for people who are at risk for developing hepatitis C infection to get periodic blood tests to get to the diagnosis and start treatment to prevent any potentially serious complications. Hepatitis C infection in itself does not affect the overall prognosis unless it is associated with other complications of the liver.[1,2]

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