A viral infection that spreads through blood contaminated with hepatitis C virus (HCV), hepatitis C is a disease characterized by inflammation of the liver, which can sometimes result in serious liver damage. People with hepatitis C are often unaware that they are infected because the disease does not usually show symptoms until the liver gets seriously damaged. Some of the symptoms of hepatitis C include drowsiness, confusion, slurred speech, the appearance of spider-like blood vessels on the skin, and swelling in legs. Fatigue, itchy skin, dark colored urine, easy bruising, and weight loss are some other symptoms.
A person with HIV has a higher chance of developing hepatitis C. Family history of the condition, especially when a person is born to a woman with the infection, is also a risk factor. If an infected needle pierces through a person’s skin, such as having a tattoo with an unsterilized needle that was used for an infected person, it can also cause the infection. Hemodialysis treatment, often done to remove waste products from the blood of a patient with kidney failure, can also predispose a person to the infection.
If left untreated for many years, hepatitis C can result in significant complications such as liver cancer and cirrhosis or scarring of the liver, which makes it difficult for the liver to function. Advanced cirrhosis can cause the liver to stop functioning. Hepatitis C can be treated with oral medications.