What is Hepatitis C
Hepatitis is an infectious inflammation of the liver. Hepatitis C is a variant of hepatitis that is caused by the hepatitis C virus. It is well known in Ireland because of the scandal involving the Blood Transfusion Board’s use of contaminated anti-D blood products which infected thousands of Irish women. Hepatitis can be acute (a disease of rapid onset) or chronic (a disease of long duration, usually of gradual onset).
What are the Symptoms of Hepatitis C
The onset of the disease is one to six months after initial exposure. Acute hepatitis C is usually asymptomatic (produces no symptoms). If symptoms do develop, and this is rare, they can include nausea, loss of appetite, aching muscles and mild fever. Later, jaundice (a yellowing of the eyes and skin) may develop, and the urine may darken. At this stage the patient will probably start to feel better. A large number of people with acute hepatitis can develop chronic hepatitis. This can be asymptomatic, or it can produce mild symptoms such as tiredness and aching muscles. The most serious complication of chronic hepatitis C is cirrhosis of the liver. In rare cases, liver cancer may develop.
What are the Causes of Hepatitis C
The main way to spread hepatitis C is through contaminated blood. This can be during a blood transfusion, or if you share needles with an infected person. You can get it through unprotected sex. It is also possible for hepatitis C to be passed from a mother to her baby. People who work around needles, such as health care workers, can get it if they are accidentally pricked by a contaminated needle.
Traditional Medical Treatments for Hepatitis C
There is a very small chance of clearing the virus spontaneously in chronic HCV carriers (0.5 to 0.74% per year) however, the majority of patients with chronic hepatitis C will not clear it without treatment. Current treatment is a combination of pegylated interferon alpha and the antiviral drug ribavirin for a period of 24 or 48 weeks, depending on genotype. Indications for treatment include patients with proven hepatitis C virus infection and persistent abnormal liver function tests.
Complementary/Alternative Treatments for Hepatitis C
There are number of dietary supplements that are used: milk thistle, licorice root, ginseng, thymus extract, schisandra, and colloidal silver.