The Centers For Disease and Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that that are about 3.5 million people in the United States of America who have chronic hepatitis C. The CDC also estimates that 20 percent of the people suffering from chronic hepatitis C virus will go on to develop cirrhosis of the liver. The complication with this scenario is that most of the people infected have no idea that they are. This means they have never taken the time required to consider the link between hepatitis C and Cirrhosis of the liver.
The Link between Cirrhosis of the Liver and Hepatitis C
The key link between Cirrhosis of the Liver Hepatitis C is that they both attack the liver. They are dangerous because they both do not sure any symptoms in the early stages. This is the reason why most people with these conditions may be oblivious to their presence. In most cases, the diagnosis comes too late to save the liver, and sometimes life.
Hepatitis C Virus Starts Attacking the Liver
Initially, the hepatitis C virus attacks the liver and, in most cases, later develops into a chronic infection. This chronic infection results in inflammation of the liver which causes damage. According to the Healthline Newsletter , it can take up to 30 years of damage to the liver before the problem is eventually identified.
Development into Cirrhosis
There are a number of factors which can lead to liver damage, including prolonged alcohol abuse, hepatitis, and parasites.
As the inflammation of the liver continues over time, the result is permanent damage and wounds that no longer heal. This is called cirrhosis. When the liver arrives at the point of cirrhosis, it is no longer able to heal itself. The result of cirrhosis can be a collapse of the liver, cancer, and end-stage liver disease. The only solution at this stage is a liver transplant.
Cirrhosis of the liver can happen in two main stages. In the first stage, Compensated cirrhosis, the body continues to function even though there is damage in the liver. In the second stage, Decompensated cirrhosis, you may start to experience pronounced symptoms. Healthline identifies some of this symptoms as variceal haemorrhage, hepatic encephalopathy, and kidney failure.
Symptoms of Cirrhosis Caused By Hepatitis C
Cirrhosis related to hepatitis C can show no symptoms in the beginning until the condition is at an advanced stage.
The leading symptoms of this condition include feeling fatigued. If you experience a lack of appetite, nausea, and weight loss that is not intended, you may also be developing the condition.
Other symptoms include itchiness, bruising and bleeding easily, yellow eyes and skin, swelling legs, fluid in the abdomen, and veins that are enlarged in the upper stomach and the esophagus.
This condition can also result in impaired mental function. This is caused by an excessive build-up of toxins and an infection in the lining of the abdomen. When the kidney and liver fail at the same time, it’s time to get help.
Difference between Liver Cirrhosis and Liver Cancer
When talking about liver cirrhosis, it is easy for people to confuse this with liver cancer. These two are different.
Liver cancer manifests as a malignant parasitic tumor which grows slowly in the liver. It has potential, just like other malignant tumors to spread to other organs in the body. It can have no causes or sometimes result from other diseases of the liver which can include cirrhosis.
Some of the common symptoms of this type of cancer include pain in the abdominal area. Other signs include yellowish skin, dysfunction of the liver, abdominal mass, and nausea.
On the other hand, cirrhosis of the liver is a result of healthy tissues slowly turning into scar tissue which becomes dysfunctional. Unlike liver cancer, cirrhosis is more dangerous as it does not usually show any symptoms when it’s in the early stages.
Some of the common signs of this condition include loss of appetite, fatigue, jaundice, bruises, and fever. If you notice blood in the stool, a build-up of fluid in the abdomen, an orange brownish color in the urine, personality changes and injury to the kidney which is acute, you may be a potential victim.
Do Most People With Hepatitis C Develop Liver Cancer?
Before concluding this article, let’s look at some common questions that naturally come up when a person hears about the link between Hepatitis C and Cirrhosis of the Liver. Do most people who have liver cirrhosis end up with liver cancer? According to WebMD, an online resource that provides information about health issues, the answer is no, as only about 5 percent of the 3 million Americans who have hepatitis C will end up with liver cancer.
Hepatitis C and Cirrhosis Treatment
A good prognosis of cirrhosis depends on identifying the condition while it is still in its early stages. Treating a patient with hepatitis C using interferon and ribavirin can help slow down the development of cirrhosis. Once the condition has reached the advanced stages, the only treatment which remains effective is a liver transplant.
While interferon and ribavirin are good treament methods, the latest cure for Hepatitis C consists of Sofosbuvir. However, a 12 week treatment costs $84,000, while a 24 week treatment costs over $164,000 for Sofosbuvir in the US. Countries like India, Egypt, etc. sell the generic treatment for these crucial drugs at 90% discounts.
Even though treatment does not always result in a total eradication of the hepatitis virus, it can help to delay complications caused by cirrhosis. Starting treatment late will reduce the choices you have.
Patients diagnosed with both hepatitis C and cirrhosis of the liver can lead healthy and productive lives. The answer lies in an early diagnosis. An early diagnosis depends on you being able to identify the symptoms. When you start to suspect that this may be a condition you have, consulting your doctor will help you to eliminate the guessing game.
In order to ensure that you preserve your health, you may want to avoid alcohol and get proper medical care on a regular basis. Treating the underlying hepatitis C virus infection can help slow down the progression of cirrhosis. Above all, the right information about the link between these two conditions can help you make informed decisions.