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Only 15 % of those exposed will develop symptoms of acute hepatitis C infection. The symptoms are generally mild in nature and include a decreased appetite, nausea, weight loss, fatigue, muscle or joint pains. In rare cases, acute liver failure can occur. In most of the cases, the infection resolves spontaneously.
Those whose immune system cannot fight HCV infection will develop a chronic infection. This means there is a persistent presence of the virus in their body. These patients usually don’t suffer from any symptoms for few decades. However, with the progress of the disease, chronic hepatitis can lead to cirrhosis and also a liver cancer. On ultrasonography examination, fatty changes can be seen. More than 27 % of cirrhosis and 25 % of liver cancer cases are contributed by HCV. Cirrhosis is fibrosis and scarring of the liver tissue. Liver cirrhosis can lead to many complications like portal hypertension, fluid accumulation in the abdomen, easy bruising or increased bleeding tendency, enlarged veins, jaundice, and hepatic encephalopathy.
The term is used for the patients whose examination shows the clearance of the virus, however, they are still infected. The presence of the virus can only be identified by ultra-sensitive testing. Elevation of liver enzymes without detection of antibodies can also occur which is known as cryptogenic occult infection.
With newer treatment options the success rate in the treatment of HCV has been increased. Apart from anti-viral therapy, there are important practices to be followed by the patients such as:
The antiviral drugs must be initiated in all the patients with HCV infection. The newer drugs are quite safe and effective. However, the cost of the therapy remains very high. The type of hepatitis C virus should be identified to properly initiate the treatment. It is advised that single drug therapy should not be used as there are high chances of resistance with it. The following are recommendation by type
It is observed that almost 90% of the patients respond to the Ribavirin, Sofosbuvir with interferon therapy. Ribavirin and Sofosbuvir appear to be effective in around 70 to 95 % of the patients with HCV type 2 and 3 infections. Treatment with Ledipasvir and Sofosbuvir for patients with genotype 1 infection can control 93 to 99 % of the infection. A study showed that almost 99 % cure rate was achieved with a combination therapy of Velpatasvir and Sofosbuvir. Depending on the HCV genotype, the treatment should be initiated under the proper guidance of the specialist. The earlier the implementation, the higher the cure rates.