Hepatitis C is an inflammatory liver infection caused by the hepatitis C virus. Although it can cause an acute, short-term illness, approximately 75-85% of people who become infected with hepatitis C will develop a chronic, or long-term, infection. The team of infectious disease specialists at Birmingham ID & Infusion in Birmingham, Alabama offers comprehensive care -- including injection drug treatment -- to patients with chronic hepatitis C. To learn more, call or schedule an appointment online today.
Hepatitis C is a severe inflammatory liver infection caused by the hepatitis C virus, which is spread through contact with an infected person’s blood. There are two types of hepatitis C infection:
Short-term hepatitis C is an infection that emerges within six months of your exposure to the virus. Although acute hepatitis C can be a mild, short-term illness, most cases evolve into a chronic, or long-term, problem.
Acute hepatitis C can cause symptoms like fever, fatigue, joint pain, and dark urine. More often though, it’s asymptomatic, meaning it doesn’t cause symptoms at all.
When acute hepatitis C goes unnoticed and untreated, it’s likely to become a chronic condition that can lead to significant liver complications, including cancer, cirrhosis, and even failure. More than three million people in the United States have chronic hepatitis C.
Hepatitis C is only spread through direct contact with infected blood. Health care workers who are inadvertently exposed to someone else’s blood through an accidental needle stick have a greater risk of contracting the disease, as do people who share needles, syringes, or other equipment that’s used to prepare or inject drugs.
It’s possible, but not as common, to contract hepatitis C after sharing a personal care item that may have come in contact with infected blood, such as a razor or a toothbrush. People who have had tattoos or piercings in an unsanitary setting also have a higher risk for hepatitis C.
Before 1992, when blood screening technology was improved, hepatitis C was also widely spread through blood transfusions and organ transplants.
The only treatment protocol for acute hepatitis C is watchful waiting, or continued monitoring under a doctor’s care to make sure the infection doesn’t become chronic.
Medications used to treat chronic hepatitis C have advanced in recent years. In fact, antiviral oral treatment therapy, which involves taking pills for 8-12 weeks, has a high cure rate with few side effects.
When antiviral pills aren’t a viable option, other medications– including injections– may be beneficial. The type of medication that’s best for you depends on the genotype of your infection, the presence and extent of any liver damage, and other medical conditions or prior treatments.
To learn more about the hepatitis C treatments available at Birmingham ID & Infusion, call the clinic or schedule an appointment online today.