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Hepatitis: An Overview 
 
by Valencia P. Higuera October 10, 2005

What is Hepatitis C?

Hepatitis C is the most serious form of hepatitis. This type of hepatitis almost always leads to permanent liver damage. The reason is because many who have hepatitis C are not diagnosed with the condition early. This infection presents no symptoms in the initial stage. By the time a person begins to feel ill, the infection has advanced and begun to cause irreversible liver damage.

Causes of Hepatitis C Similar to hepatitis B, hepatitis C is a sexually transmitted disease. In order to become infected with this form of hepatitis, a person must encounter the blood or body fluid of an infected person. Thus, unclean needles used for drug injections, tattoos, and ear piercings place a person at great risk for being infected with hepatitis C. Although rare, it is possible for a mother to pass the infection to her newborn child. The exact cause of hepatitis C is relatively new. Up until the early 1990’s, many became infected as the result of blood transfusions. However, because of enhanced blood screening devices, the chance of becoming infected by a blood donor have decreased. Those infected generally show signs of the illness rather quickly. In most cases, symptoms appear within two weeks of becoming infected.

Symptoms of Hepatitis C

In the beginning, those infected with hepatitis C may have no symptoms. Mild symptoms that may occur include the usual such as jaundice, tiredness, loss of appetite, nausea, and sore muscles. However, once the infection advances, those infected may notice a worsening of their overall health. Symptoms of chronic hepatitis C include:

Extreme tiredness

Abdominal pain

Skin rash

Itchy skin

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