Hepatitis C has become a global problem with devastating consequences. It is also thought to be the cause of the rising death toll in the world.
Hepatitis C a “Silent Epidemic”:
Medical experts call hepatitis C a “silent epidemic” because 95% of sufferers are unaware that they have the disease.
Globally, about 150 million people with hepatitis C go untreated, resulting in an estimated 700,000 deaths annually.
Hepatitis “C” A Most Dangerous Type:
Hepatitis C is the most dangerous of the five types of liver disease and is the only one of which there is no vaccine available.
95% of people with the disease do not know they are sick, so it is important to get tested for the disease.
Symptoms of the disease do not appear for many years, but when hepatitis C is diagnosed, it is too late to begin treatment, and damage to the liver can turn into cancer.
Experts say the death toll from the disease is higher because it receives less attention and funding from policymakers than other diseases such as AIDS, TB, or malaria.
There are currently about 35 million hepatitis patients in the world. That includes 1.5 million Pakistanis, making up seven percent of Pakistan’s population. This deadly disease kills thousands of Pakistanis almost every month. According to the
World Health Organization, there are a total of five types of hepatitis, called hepatitis A, B, C, D, and E.
The most common and dangerous types are hepatitis B and C. Of the 1.5 million or 15 million people infected with the disease in Pakistan, 14 million are infected with Hepatitis B and C. The number of deaths due to the hepatitis virus in Pakistan on an annual basis is estimated by medical experts to be between one and a half million.
Signs of Hepatitis C:
Most people with hepatitis C do not have symptoms and they know they are not affected by it. It took 30 years for the symptoms to grow. When the symptoms appear, they are sometimes accompanied by an enlarged liver.
During the acute phase (first 6 months after infection) most persons show no symptoms or might experience a mild illness.
During the chronic phase the symptoms include:
- Jaundice (yellow discoloration of the skin and eyes)
- Easy bruising and bleeding
- Dark-coloured urine, light-colored stools
- Abdominal pain
- Loss of appetite
- Ascites (accumulation of fluid and swelling of the abdominal cavity)
- Star-shaped vein pattern developing on the swollen belly
Spread of hepatitis:
The disease is spread in the blood and is transmitted through improper sterilization of medical devices, but most cases are caused by needle-sharing.
Two-thirds of the world’s hepatitis C cases are caused by drug users due to their unsafe activities.
Testing of these cases has become so important that if hepatitis C is diagnosed during a test, antiviral drugs can help 90% of patients.
Many countries and organizations are now working on ways to raise awareness about the disease and improve diagnosis rates.
Tests for Hepatitis C Diagnosis:
The doctor will test the patient’s blood to check for the presence of hepatitis C in the patient’s body and this blood test will indicate the presence or absence of hepatitis C in the patient’s body or its early and extreme stage. The doctor may also perform a biopsy of the patient’s liver. This is a simple test, in which a doctor removes a small part of your liver with a needle as a sample and analyzes the effects of Hepatitis C on it and how it affects your liver. How much damage has been done?
Treatment of Hepatitis C:
Hepatitis C is treated with an injection called interferon (Interferon is a powerful drug used to treat hepatitis types B, C, and D), along with a ribavirin capsule (treat hepatitis C infection). If you have had hepatitis C for a long time, you may need surgery.
Hepatitis C stops the liver Function:
Hepatitis C stops the functioning of your liver, which can be life-threatening. If this happens, you will need a new liver. This is called a liver transplant, in which the old and damaged liver A new and healthy liver is removed and transplanted from a donor.
How to Reduce the Spread of Hepatitis C:
To reduce the spread of hepatitis C, some precautions must be taken to protect yourself and others from the disease, such as:
1- Do not use other people’s used syringes.
2- Wear gloves before touching the blood of others.
3- If you have a tattoo or a name etc. on your body, please be sure to clean the relevant tools.
4- Do not use used tools of the dentist and barber.