Hepatitis C is a disease that not only affects the liver, but it may cause arthritis as well. Hepatitis C can be very serious. Some people have acute hepatitis C and others have chronic hepatitis C. Acute Hepatitis C affects about 30,000 Americans, but Chronic Hepatitis C affects nearly 4 million Americans. In most cases, people carry Hepatitis C and do not notice it. They do not have any symptoms. The first signs of Hepatitis C (HCV) may be arthritis. It is important to understand how Hepatitis C spreads as a way to protect yourself.
Hepatitis is an inflammatory disease. The inflammation happens in the liver, rather than the joints like Arthritis. Multiple things cause Hepatitis C. Infections, drug use, alcohol abuse, and toxins may all result in Hepatitis. There are two types of Hepatitis: Hepatitis A, Hepatitis B, Hepatitis C. The different types of Hepatitis are dependent upon the viruses that cause it. They range in severity and are transmitted in different ways. Hepatitis A is mild. It does not last very long; therefore, it is never chronic. Hepatitis A goes away on its own. Hepatitis B and Hepatitis C are more serious than Hepatitis A. Both infections can stay in the body and become chronic. Sometimes one type of Hepatitis leads to other types of Hepatitis as well. Hepatitis C is the worst of the three. Hepatitis C is contagious. It too is either acute or chronic. It attacks the liver and can cause liver damage leading to the need for a liver transplant. In acute cases, the illness occurs in the first six months. There are not usually any chronic conditions that follow. Chronic Hepatitis is lifelong and results in serious liver problems. Hepatitis is spread through sexual contact as well as needle use. You have to be careful about coming in contact with someone who has Hepatitis. You should not share razors and toothbrushes.
Causes of HCV-Associated Arthritis
Arthritis is inflammation of the joints. Many different things cause arthritis. It is not a disease that is always brought on by genetic factors. There are different types of arthritis as well. When you contract Hepatitis C, chronic forms can affect the muscles and joints. The Hepatitis disease triggers an immune response. When the infection enters the body, the body attempts to fight it off. While fighting off the disease, the body also fights against the joints leading to arthritis. The immune response is stronger in chronic conditions than it is in acute conditions. In acute cases, the infection lasts a short time, and that is it. When the disease is chronic, it continues to multiply in the liver. As it multiplies, the immune system continues to attack.
HCV Risk Factors
Several things put you at risk for HCV- Associated Arthritis. The biggest risk is Hepatitis C. There are other forms of Hepatitis, but when you come in contact with hepatitis C the risk of it being chronic is much higher. It does not matter your age, race, or sex. You can get Hepatitis C at any age. It affects both men and women, and it reaches all ethnicity. Hepatitis is spread sexually, but it is most often spread through drug use. When you are abusing drugs, the needles you use may be contaminated. Snorting devices may also spread Hepatitis. Sex is not the most common way HCV is spread, but you should be aware of the risks and protect yourself. If you have HCV and are pregnant or may desire to be pregnant, you must have a doctor to monitor you. It is rare for HCV to be transmitted to your child, but it can happen.
HCV- Associated Arthritis is sometimes difficult to diagnose. Arthritis is a disease in itself, and it can happen in many different ways. You can have symptoms of arthritis and not show any symptoms of HCV. The doctor has to have the experience to know when HCV is related to arthritis. The first step to reaching a diagnosis is a blood test. The doctor will see HCV antibodies in the blood serum. A second test is done to verify HCV in the blood. If a doctor does not pay attention to the arthritis symptoms and when the symptoms started, they may not do a blood test at all and misdiagnose you. Along with the blood tests, a doctor can see how fast the diseases is multiplying and spreading.
In previous years, interferons were the primary treatment of HCV. By treating the HCV, you simultaneously treat arthritis. The problem with interferons is that it caused other side effects that are not always good. A newer method of therapy is now interferon-free and bringing about a cure. The therapy does take much longer than interferon therapy, and there are side effects, but the success of having a cure makes it worth it. Once the HCV is under control, it makes it easier to treat arthritis. Anti-inflammatory drugs are good to use. What you do not want to do is use drugs that will make your liver problems worse. Anti-tumor necrosis factor drugs and rituximab are both drugs that do not have adverse effects on the liver.
HCV-Associated arthritis is an interesting disease because it is like two diseases in one. Treating HCV-Associated Arthritis is a bit more complicated. It is best to protect yourself from HCV and by doing so, you can protect yourself from arthritis.
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