Hepatitis C

Hepatitis C is a liver disease caused by infection with the hepatitis C virus. The liver becomes swollen and tender (inflamed) and may develop permanent damage, such as scarring or liver cancer.

Initial symptoms of hepatitis C are mild. They include fatigue, sore muscles, abdominal pain, and sometimes dark urine. Hepatitis C is diagnosed with blood tests, but the disease usually goes unnoticed until years later after liver damage develops.

Hepatitis C is spread through sharing needles, being exposed to infected blood, or very rarely, having unprotected sex with an infected partner.

Treatment for hepatitis C includes antiviral medications and supportive therapy. A liver transplant sometimes is needed.

Last Updated: July 13, 2009

Author: Maria Essig

Medical Review: Kathleen Romito, MD - Family Medicine & W. Thomas London, MD - Hepatology

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