Sometimes, people can have hepatitis C without symptoms, but that doesn’t mean treatment isn’t necessary.
Hep C can cause fever, fatigue, decreased appetite, nausea, vomiting, joint pain, and yellowing of the skin. It’s possible in both acute (short-term) and chronic (long-term) forms. Hep C can seriously hurt the liver in more severe cases, especially if left untreated.
Not experiencing any of these symptoms? Some cases of hep C clear on their own in a few months, but it’s still important to talk with your doctor ASAP to determine a proper treatment course that’s right for you.
Let’s talk about why.
Hep C is diagnosed through blood tests. Since hep C is a blood-borne illness, people at higher risk for developing it include those who inject drugs or share needles, or work in settings where they are exposed to blood.
If you suspect that you’ve come in contact with hep C or think you have symptoms, getting tested can help prevent serious health problems down the line. Luckily, many cases of hep C are effectively treated with antiviral medication. Your doctor will tell you what is best for your case.
Leaving hep C untreated comes with a host of risks, especially when it comes to the health of your liver. Your liver is one of the most important organs in your body. It essentially acts as a filter, channeling out harmful chemicals and regulating more than 500 vital functions.
These medical conditions can potentially occur if hep C is left untreated.
Hep C is a liver infection caused by the hepatitis C virus. So, if left untreated, this crucial organ can see some of the biggest risk factors.
Hep C causes inflammation of the liver, which can cause damage over time. Liver damage can be progressive if action isn’t taken to slow it down or reverse it. Eventually, the damage can reach a point where your liver no longer works properly to keep you alive. Cirrhosis (aka a late stage of liver scarring) can occur.
While the liver is capable of healing and repairing itself with proper care and medical treatment, more serious forms of cirrhosis can lead to liver failure and ultimately death.
Hep C is the leading cause of liver cancer, according to the CDC. Hep C testing is recommended as one of the best ways to reduce the risk of developing liver cancer.
Hepatocellular carcinoma, a common type of liver cancer, is the leading cause of liver-related death worldwide, and people with hep C are at risk.
Using antiviral medication to treat hep C actually reduces the risk of serious complications like liver cancer.
Hep C can increase your body’s insulin resistance, which is a risk factor for developing type 2 diabetes. Studies show that people with chronic hep C are more likely to develop type 2 diabetes than patients with other liver diseases like hepatitis B, and patients in healthy control groups.
Developing type 2 diabetes with hep C poses its own risk since it can result in worse outcomes, including risks we’ve already discussed, like liver cancer.
Glomerulonephritis, or a group of diseases that hurt the part of the kidney that filters blood, is another risk factor for leaving hep C untreated. It’s more commonly known as nephritis or nephrotic syndrome. In this condition, an injured kidney can’t get rid of waste and extra fluid correctly, which can cause kidney failure. Infections in the body, like hep C, are one of the primary causes of glomerulonephritis.
Porphyria cutanea tarda
Another rare disorder caused by hepatitis C is porphyria cutanea tarda. It includes painful, blistering skin lesions that can develop when the skin is exposed to the sun. Developing porphyria cutanea tarda can also cause liver abnormalities, which increase the risk of liver disease or liver cancer.
Research has discovered that hep C increases the risk factor for developing non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma by up to 69 percent. This cancer starts in white blood cells, an important part of the body’s immune system. It generally begins in the lymph nodes or other lymph tissue, but can sometimes affect the skin. Getting tested and treated ASAP for hep C can reduce the risk.
Hep C can cause a host of symptoms, like yellowing of the skin, fever, and fatigue. Other times, it can cause no symptoms at all. The good news is that hep C is super treatable. Regardless of your symptoms, getting treatment for hep C can go a long way in preventing more serious complications down the line. If you suspect hep C or you’ve been diagnosed with it, talk with your doctor to find a treatment plan that’s right for you.