Hepatitis C is an infection of the liver caused by a virus. The hepatitis C virus spreads when blood or body fluids from an infected person enter another person's body. This occurs most often by sharing needles that have the virus on them. In the past, people got hepatitis C through blood transfusions and organ transplants. Since 1992, all donated blood and organs have been screened for hepatitis C, so this is now very rare.
Hepatitis C also can spread (although it is less common) through sex, and sharing items such as razor blades or toothbrushes. Needles used for tattoos and body piercings can also spread the infection.
Hepatitis C does not always cause symptoms. But you may feel tired and have a headache, sore muscles, nausea, pain in the upper right belly, yellowish skin, and dark urine. Your doctor may prescribe antiviral medicine. Home treatment can help ease symptoms. Long-term infection with hepatitis C can lead someday to severe liver damage. Because of this, it is important that you go to your follow-up appointments.
Follow-up care is a key part of your treatment and safety. Be sure to make and go to all appointments, and call your doctor or nurse call line if you are having problems. It’s also a good idea to know your test results and keep a list of the medicines you take.
Call 911 anytime you think you may need emergency care. For example, call if:
Call your doctor or nurse call line now or seek immediate medical care if:
Watch closely for changes in your health, and be sure to contact your doctor or nurse call line if:
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Current as of: March 3, 2017
Adam Husney, MD - Family Medicine
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