Hepatitis C is an infection caused by the hepatitis C virus (HCV) that causes inflammation in the liver. Although there is currently no vaccine to cure this viral disease, it is important to go to the doctor immediately to diagnose you and assign you the best pharmacological treatment, since hepatitis C does not improve on its own. In fact, if you do not receive the right drugs, this infection will become chronic and even lead to more serious diseases such as liver cancer.
However, how is hepatitis C spread? This disease is transmitted mainly through the blood and in the following article of we explain what are the possible routes or most common cases of contagion of hepatitis C. Keep reading!
How hepatitis C is spread – here the answer
As we have anticipated, hepatitis C is an infection caused by the HCV virus and can be spread mainly through the blood. Next, we explain the main routes of contagion where the blood of the person affected by this disease comes into contact with other people.
Although currently this route of contagion is very rare due to the sanitary controls by which blood donors are subjected, before the 90s there were no necessary means to detect this type of viral infections. Therefore, during that period of time there were many people who were infected through that route. This type of contagion is still likely, as there is a period of time from when a person becomes infected until antibodies begin to be detected where the infection is undetectable.
Sharing syringes and other personal hygiene items
People who inject drugs with disposable syringes may also be likely to get hepatitis C if they use an item already used, especially if it contains traces of blood.
There could also be a contagion in the case of using personal hygiene items of the person who is infected by the disease such as razors or razors or a toothbrush.
Through sexual intercourse
Sexual intercourse could also be a route of contagion in the following cases:
- Anal sex: a person could be infected in the event that there was erosion in this area during intercourse.
- Unprotected sex (barrier methods of contraception): This type of sexual act with a person infected with another sexually transmitted disease also increases the risk of contagion.
- Having sex during menstruation: in the event that the woman is infected, it can also be a way of contagion by contact with blood.
Although unlikely, if the mother is infected with hepatitis C, there is a 2% risk, which increases by 7% at the time of delivery, of spreading the disease to the future baby.
Symptoms of hepatitis C
Even if a person is infected or has been infected through the ways we have explained, hepatitis C is a disease called “silent”, since symptoms can take many years to appear. However, once the disease has damaged our liver, the following symptoms may appear:
- Jaundice, that is, a yellowish tone of both the eyes and feet.
- Very dark urine and stools of very pale tones.
- Frequent appearance of bruising.
- Itching on the skin.
- Swollen legs.
- Hepatic encephalopathy, that is, feeling disoriented, drowsy and having babbling.
- Weight loss and poor appetite.
In the case of having some of the following symptoms or similar to those of a flu (fever and muscle pain) it is important that you go to the health personnel to diagnose the disease through a blood test.
Risk factors for hepatitis C
Although there are no exact causes for which the hepatitis C virus occurs, some risk factors have been defined for which some people are more likely to become infected with this disease:
- People who have received a blood transfusion before the 90s: as we have said, until that moment, since the HCV virus was not discovered, they did not perform specific tests to detect it.
- People with tattoos and piercings: there is a probability in the event that they have been made in establishments that are not approved or that do not comply with the minimum sanitary measures.
- Intravenous drug users: their risk is very high because single-use syringes are often shared.
- Patients who have received vaccines with non-disposable syringes: until a few years ago, hypodermic or sterilized needles were used, that is, the same syringe was applied to several patients. However, many times the needle was not sterilized properly, so some patients could be infected with the virus.
- In surgical interventions: it is possible in the event that infected blood comes into contact with the surgical staff through a wound.
Now that you know how hepatitis C is spread, you may also be interested in this other article on How to Treat Hepatitis.