Hepatitis C is a disease that primarily affects the liver. If left untreated, it can progress over time and cause complications beyond liver issues. Read on to learn more.

Hepatitis C is a viral infection that primarily targets the liver. It affects millions globally, yet it remains misunderstood. While many people are aware of its existence, few understand the full scope of what it can do.

Hepatitis C often goes unnoticed, because it may not cause symptoms for a while. Furthermore, only about 30% of people naturally clear the virus from their systems, which means about 70% of people develop a chronic hepatitis C infection.

Over time, a chronic infection can result in severe health conditions, such as cirrhosis (a liver disease), liver cancer, and liver failure. These complications can be life-threatening, which makes it crucial to understand as much as you can about hepatitis C.

At Monarch Health Services, Inc., in West Palm Beach, Florida, Tiffany Jarrett, MD, and our team have made it a goal to help people get informed about this common disease and get treatment if needed. Toward that end, we provide rapid hepatitis C testing, which is a crucial first step in identifying and managing this complex disease.

In this article, we dive into some of the lesser-known aspects regarding hepatitis C.

The basics of hepatitis C

The hepatitis C virus is transmitted through blood, and infections most often occur due to unsafe injection practices, unscreened blood transfusions, unsafe health care, and sexual practices. According to the World Health Organization, about 58 million people have the virus, with about 1.5 million new infections occurring yearly.

The common symptom of a hepatitis C infection is inflammation of the liver. And, while direct-acting antiviral medicines (DAAs) are estimated to be able to cure 95% of people who have the virus, there currently isn’t an effective vaccine.

The effects of hepatitis C beyond the liver

While hepatitis C is primarily a liver disease, its complications can affect the entire body. These effects, known as extrahepatic manifestations, often fly under the radar. Some of the most common include:

Blood disorders

Hepatitis C can cause cryoglobulinemia, which is a condition that damages arteries and veins.

Kidney conditions

This condition can trigger kidney diseases, such as glomerulonephritis, which causes acute inflammation of the kidney.

Skin conditions

Various skin ailments, such as lichen planus and porphyria cutanea tarda, can result from a hepatitis C infection.

Autoimmune disorders

The virus can stimulate autoimmune responses, which can lead to conditions like Sjogren’s syndrome and thyroid diseases.

Lymphatic conditions

Hepatitis C is associated with conditions that affect the lymphatic system, such as non-Hodgkin lymphoma.

Neurological complications

Hepatitis C can lead to neurological issues, such as peripheral neuropathy, in which nerves that are located outside of the brain and spinal cord get damaged.

Mental health issues

Living with hepatitis C can increase the likelihood of developing mental health conditions, such as depression and anxiety. Additionally, treatments for hepatitis C, specifically interferon-based therapies, can trigger mental health issues, including depression.

As you can see, the complications can be quite severe. In light of this, it’s crucial to get tested as early as possible, which you can do through hepatitis C testing. By identifying the disease early, we can intervene promptly and develop a comprehensive treatment plan.

Considering comorbidities

The term comorbidity describes two or more conditions existing at the same time in a person. When it comes to hepatitis C, having another condition, such as HIV or diabetes, can complicate treatment for hepatitis C, affect the progression of the disease, and increase the risk for severe complications.

For instance, diabetic patients with hepatitis C face an increased risk for severe liver disease. 

Hepatitis C is a complex disease with diverse and often under-recognized complications.

Understanding these complexities is the first step toward effective management. Monarch Health Services, Inc., is committed to offering comprehensive, patient-centered care through rapid hepatitis C testing. This ensures early detection and intervention, enabling us to work together for better health outcomes.

To get tested for hepatitis C or to get treated for this disease, call 561-510-7859 or book an appointment online with Monarch Health Services, Inc., today.

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