Hepatitis C infection of the liver can be acute or chronic. Many infected people may never realise that they have been infected. The long-term effects of chronic Hepatitis C infection can be very variable.
[Read: Expected duration of Hepatitis C]
Prognosis of hepatitis C infection
In acute stage of infection symptoms develop in about 1 in 4 people during the initial first six months. In some people the initial symptoms are mild and non-specific and often similar to flu. Some others may develop symptoms indicative of liver infection such as fever, nausea and vomiting, loss of appetite, pain in abdomen, feeling sick and tired, and jaundice (yellowish discoloration of skin and the whites of the eyes).
In some people with acute hepatitis C infection, the immune system is able to clear the hepatitis C virus from their body and eliminate the infection. These people experience no further symptoms (unless they become infected again) after resolution of acute symptoms. In some cases virus is not eliminated and it persists inside the body for many years. This is known as chronic hepatitis.
Most people with chronic hepatitis C infection do not develop severe complications of the disease. Complications occur in about 15 per cent to 30 per cent of chronically infected people. They develop cirrhosis which may lead to liver failure. If damage is severe, liver transplantation is the only treatment. However this is not cure for hepatitis C infection, as the new liver can also get infected. Inflammation of the liver and cirrhosis C may lead to liver cancer in some of the chronically infected people. Rarely some people with hepatitis C develop complications outside the liver in the skin and connective tissues of the body, the blood or bone marrow, the muscles, the joints, or the kidneys.
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