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ELLANA, Jelaine C.BSN-IVHEPATITIS CKey FactsHepatitis C is a liver disease caused by the hepatitis C virus: the virus can cause both acute and chronic hepatitis infection, ranging in severity from a mild illness lasting a few weeks to a serious, lifelong illness.The hepatitis C virus is a bloodborne virus and the most common modes of infection are through unsafe injection practices; inadequate sterilization of medical equipment; and the transfusion of unscreened blood and blood products.130–150 million people globally have chronic hepatitis C infection.A significant number of those who are chronically infected will develop liver cirrhosis or liver cancer.Approximately 500 000 people die each year from hepatitis C-related liver diseases1.Antiviral medicines can cure approximately 90% of persons with hepatitis C infection, thereby reducing the risk of death from liver cancer and cirrhosis, but access to diagnosis and treatment is low.There is currently no vaccine for hepatitis C; however research in this area is ongoing.CausesThe virus spreads through the bloodor body fluids of an infected person.You can catch it from:Sharing drugs and needlesHaving sex, especially if you have an STD, an HIVinfection, several partners, or have rough sexBeing stuck by infected needlesBirth -- a mother can pass it to a childSymptomsThe incubation period for hepatitis C is 2 weeks to 6 months. Symptoms may include:Abdominal painDark-colored urineFatigueJaundiceJoint painLoss of appetiteNauseaVomitingScreening and Diagnosis
An ultrasound of the liver and a serum α-fetoprotein test should be done to check for hepatocellular cancer (Noda, et al., 2010) and if the patient has a chronic infection. Treatment for a liver biopsy is recommended, (Schiff, 2011). The tissue sample from the liver biopsy is assessed for fibrosis. The degree of fibrosis is determined using either the Ishak scoring system or the Metavir scoring system (Moradpour,Mllhaupt, & Swiss, 2012). Assessing the degree of fibrosis is important. People who have mild or no fibrosis have a low risk of developing cirrhosis, but people with specific patterns of fibrosis (e.g., portal fibrosis or septal fibrosis) are more likely to develop cirrhosis and develop it relatively quickly.Learning Break: α-fetoprotein is a protein produced by the liver. The level of α-fetoprotein is often elevated when a patient has liver cancer, so it is considered to be a tumor marker.
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Hepatitis D, Hepatitis C, Hepatitis E, hepatitis C-related liver