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Hepatitis C

Hepatitis C Symptoms and Causes

Hepatitis C Description

Hepatitis is inflammation of the liver that sometimes causes permanent damage. Hepatitis C (known as HCV and once called non-A, non-B hepatitis) is a liver disease caused by a recently identified blood-borne virus. Discovered in 1989, this strain of acute viral hepatitis causes approximately 20,000 new infections in the US each year.

Recovery from this infection is rare – about 75 to 85 percent of infected persons become chronic carriers of the virus. Approximately 20 percent of people infected with hepatitis C virus will become sick with jaundice or other symptoms of hepatitis. Sixty to 70 percent of these individuals may go on to develop chronic liver disease.

Hepatitis C Symptoms

The following are the most common hepatitis C symptoms; however, each individual may experience symptoms differently.

  • Loss of appetite
  • Fatigue
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Vague stomach pain
  • Jaundice – yellowing of the skin and eyes.
  • Fever
  • Dark yellow urine
  • Light-colored stools
  • Muscle and joint pain

Hepatitis C Causes

Transmission of hepatitis C occurs primarily from contact with infected blood, but can also occur from sexual contact or from an infected mother to her baby. Blood transfusions prior to 1992 and the use of shared needles are other significant causes of the spread of hepatitis C.

Chronic liver disease due to hepatitis C causes between 8,000 and 10,000 deaths and is the leading indication for liver transplantation each year in the United States. By the year 2010, the number of deaths from hepatitis C is expected to rise to 38,000 each year.