Hepatitis C can take up to several years to show signs – it slowly causes damage to the liver and sometimes it is not until people notice symptoms of liver damage that they realize they have the virus. The symptoms that show up after liver damage has occurred include feeling tired, joint and muscle pain, itchy skin, and darker urine. Jaundice can set in after the other symptoms start to recede. Jaundice is when your skin takes on a yellowish color and the whites of your eyes look yellow too.
How is it Caused?
If you come into contact with hepatitis C infected blood you can contract it. Commonly, the virus is caused by sharing needles or other equipment that another infected person has used to take drugs that are illegal.
Before 1992, there was no screening process for hepatitis C in blood donations so if you received a transfusion, the blood may have been infected. It could also be passed via a donated organ. Since 1992, however, there has been a strict screening process and if you are infected you cannot donate.
You can contract the hepatitis c virus from unclean or previously used piercing and tattoo equipment. While it is common practice to only use sterilized and new needles, be sure that if you are getting a piercing or tattoo that the artist has a good reputation and that they show you that all their equipment is clean or new.
There is a possibility that if you have hepatitis C you could pass it to your unborn child in the womb. This is uncommon, though it is possible.
It is not certain whether the virus can be passed through sexual intercourse, you need to be in contact with infected blood.
Treatment depends on how severe your infection is, some people may not even need treatment. The best thing for most people is to stay active and healthy, and your doctor will recommend whether you need medication or not.
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