Hepatitis C is a liver viral infection that is spread worldwide. About 3 percent of the world population is infected, in Germany about 800 000 people. The disease is chronic in 80 percent of cases and can then lead to severe liver damage, such as cirrhosis (liver cancer) or liver cancer.
Transmission of hepatitis C
The transmission of the hepatitis C virus (HCV) happens on the bloodstream. This makes the group of drug addicts particularly vulnerable when needles and syringes are shared. But also special occupational groups that can come into contact with infected blood, such as laboratory technicians, nurses or doctors.
Rarely, but possible, is the transfer from mother to child during childbirth. Especially when the concentration of the virus in the maternal blood is very high.
The risk of sexual transmission is also present - especially in sexual practices with a high risk of injury.
In many cases, however, the transmission path can not be determined. Important: Infections via blood transfusions or during dialysis (blood washing) are today - if properly performed and controlled - almost impossible.
Symptoms of Hepatitis C
- Acute form: After an incubation period of 2 to 26 weeks, flu-like symptoms such as headache, body aches and fatigue occur. Many sufferers report loss of appetite, pressure in the upper abdomen and aversion to certain foods. Rarely, the skin and eyes turn yellow or there is a darkening of the urine and a discoloration of the stool. In about 10-20% of the acutely affected, the disease heals without therapy after 2-8 weeks. However, in most cases, the immune system is unable to fight the virus on its own. If it is detected in the patient's body for more than 6 months, it is called chronic hepatitis C.
- Chronic form: The infection can progress creepingly over decades. Most sufferers complain of complaints such as tiredness, diminished performance, unclear upper abdominal discomfort. A lesser part reports itching and joint problems. One fifth of these chronically infected people get cirrhosis of the liver after an average of 20 years. This in turn can be a trigger for liver cancer.