|Welcome to the FAQ Library!
This library has been created to assist with learning about hepatitis C on all different levels.
Please note that all information is deemed to be accurate at the time of publishing. If, as a reader, you feel that this information could be enhanced or updated, please contact us.
Hepatitis C is a liver disease caused by the Hepatitis C Virus (HCV), which is found in the blood of people who have this disease. Hepatitis C is spread by contact with the blood of an HCV infected person, whether that be through injected drug use, blood transfusions, organ transplants, violence, and many other methods.
The hepatitis C virus (HCV) is transmitted by blood-to-blood contact.
NOTE: Physical Violence
Physical violence is also a form of transmission of hepatitis C, it can occur if people are fighting where both are bleeding and there are open cuts, then blood is exchanged and hep C is transmitted.
1. There is documentation of a Police Officer who was apprehending a felon when the felon punched the policeman in the mouth/teeth, blood was exchanged and the police officer now has hepatitis C.
2. Domestic Violence: A woman contracted the disease after being physically beaten by her hep C infected husband.
Hepatitis C - Common Symptoms
* Stress (adjusting to HCV)
* Flu-like symptoms
* Right upper side discomfort
The symptoms of HCV can range from mild to severe. They may be barely noticed, or they may cause problems for the infected person. Symptoms, when they appear at all, usually develop gradually. Because symptoms can appear and disappear, a person may experience periods of both good and poor health. Symptoms during the chronic phase may last several weeks or months at a time. However, rather than coming and going, it is possible that the symptoms could disappear altogether.
A symptom or treatment side effect may differ from person to person in these ways:
* how often it appears (frequency);
* how much the individual feels it (intensity); and,
* how long it lasts (duration).
There are many reasons why people with HCV experience symptoms differently, such as age, general state of health, and the degree of viral infection (viral load). This makes it difficult for people working in health care, government, and the insurance business to agree on a definition for “disabling effect” that clearly reflects the severity of disability experienced by an individual person.
Here are the symptoms commonly experienced by people with HCV.
Many people infected with HCV experience fatigue. Factors that may contribute to fatigue include:
* pain – Loss of sleep due to pain or discomfort may cause fatigue. Pain may also sap energy.
* depression and stress – Depression and stress may cause a person to feel a lack of energy, or fatigued. (See more information under ‘Common side effects of treatment’.)
* being less active – One may not feel like doing much — even simple tasks require major effort. If a person doesn’t get enough physical activity, however, muscles will weaken and the person will be able to do less over time.
* overdoing it –Some people do too much on the days they feel well. They find it hard to pace themselves because they want to keep up with their regular activities or they don’t want others to know they are not well.
People who have fatigue describe having good days and bad days. Sometimes a string of good days will be followed by days of feeling totally “wiped out.” It’s entirely possible for a person with HCV not to feel fatigued; on the other hand, severe fatigue may develop in people whose tests show little or no changes in the liver due to the infection.
For some people fatigue is a daily companion. They may feel fatigued in the morning and completely exhausted before the end of an ordinary workday. This type of fatigue, which isn’t linked to over-stressed muscles, is better described by the word lassitude. Lassitude means the person feels a complete lack of energy, and may feel tired even after a full night’s sleep. This state of chronic weariness may cause a lot of negative changes in life.
Some people experience what may be called “brain fog”. Brain fog is how people describe being unable to concentrate or being forgetful. It may take them longer to complete a routine task, or they may feel a lack of mental strength needed to finish tasks.
Stress (adjusting to HCV)
Stress can be created when the person with HCV worries about the future. Why? Having HCV may change a person’s outlook on life. The stress of dealing with the losses caused by a chronic illness can make symptoms worse and may even affect the progression of disease. For some people, this emotional strain may be more disabling than the physical effects of the disease.
People living with HCV may experience depression and anger, even without signs of liver inflammation. Others report that they feel more irritable (likely to “fly off the handle”) or moody than usual. These symptoms, sometimes described as “inside your head,” may have a more direct link to HCV than is currently known. Researchers are looking for a connection between HCV and “mild” changes to the brain.
Some common stresses are:
* uncertainty about the future and feeling unable to make plans;
* fear of physical or mental deterioration;
* possibility that important health care services may not be available when needed;
* imbalances and tension that may develop in important relationships; and,
* having tests done, including a liver biopsy, and then waiting for test results.
It must be noted that a person’s life situation, even without the HCV infection, may be terribly stressful. Taking care of the basics will likely take priority over symptom management or the threat of poor health in the future. Worry over where to sleep tonight or when the next meal will come is more “real” for some people than a concern for liver damage, with or without symptoms.[/b]
Nausea is one of the most common symptoms of HCV infection. If the nausea leads to severe vomiting, a health care provider should be consulted for help to avoid weight loss, dehydration, and electrolyte imbalance. Muscles may feel sore and joints may ache.
Right upper side discomfort
Some people may feel a dull ache on their right side, just below the rib cage. In fewer cases, an ache or pain may travel up to the right shoulder, or be experienced as a sharp stabbing feeling. This discomfort is believed to be due to swelling of the liver, causing the thick membrane surrounding the liver to stretch.
Thanks to the Canadian Hemophilia Society for this information.
The Hep C Council has a fact sheet on Fatigue which can be viewed here:
Disclaimer: All information provided on our website and forums is to be used as a guideline only. Always consult with a doctor or specialist before making any decisions regarding your health care.
Acute hepatitis C refers to the first 6 months after infection with HCV.
Chronic hepatitis C is defined as infection with the hepatitis C virus persisting for more than six months.