Hepatitis C | Nucleus Health

If you have Hepatitis
C, your liver is inflamed because
you have been infected with the
Hepatitis C virus. Your liver is the largest
organ inside your body and performs many
important functions. The functional
parts of your liver are called hepatic lobules. Your hepatic lobules filter
all of the blood in your body. As your blood
passes through them, your hepatic lobules
breakdown harmful substances, remove bacteria and
worn out blood cells, and form clotting factors
that control bleeding. After a meal, your
liver makes and stores nutrients to provide your
body with energy when needed. Your liver also makes a
substance called bile. Your gall bladder
stores the bile and releases it into
your small intestine to help digest fats
in the food you eat. If you have Hepatitis
C, the virus entered your body
when you were exposed to the blood or
other body fluids from a person infected
with the virus. This could have happened
from sharing a drug syringe with an infected person. Other ways you may have been
exposed to the virus include: having sex with someone
infected by the virus; sharing personal hygiene items,
such as razors or toothbrushes, used by an infected person;
direct contact with the blood or body fluids of
an infected person; or when a mother passes it
to her baby during birth. During the early, or acute
phase, of a Hepatitis C infection, the Hepatitis
C virus enters your liver and invades your liver cells. Once inside your
liver cells, the virus begins to make copies of itself. During the copying
process, changes called mutations
occur frequently in the virus’ genetic
material, leading to new strains of the virus. In response to the
viral infection, your body sends immune
cells to attack both a virus and the liver cells
infected with the virus. As a result, these liver cells
become inflamed and then die. Over time, scar tissue forms
around dead and infected liver cells. The scar tissue prevents your
liver from working properly. If you have a chronic
Hepatitis C infection, your liver contains a large
amount of scar tissue, called cirrhosis, which
limits blood flow and results in permanent shrinking and
hardening of your liver. A vaccine contains weakend,
or inactive, viruses that train your immune system
to recognize and attack certain viruses. However, frequent mutations
in the Hepatitis C virus make it likely
that you will catch a version of the virus not
contained in a vaccine. As a result, there is
no effective vaccine for the Hepatitis C virus. If you have Hepatitis
C, your immune system alone may destroy all
of the Hepatitis C virus is in your body. However, most people
infected with the virus develop chronic
Hepatitis C, a condition in which your
immune system is not able to destroy all of
the viruses in your body after six months. If you have chronic Hepatitis
C and your immune system can’t get rid of the
virus completely, your doctor may prescribe a
combination therapy consisting of an anti-viral medication
called Ribavirin, and injections of
Interferon, a medication that strengthens your immune system. These drugs are most
effective against Hepatitis C when taken together. If you have a severe case
of chronic Hepatitis C, your doctor may recommend a
liver transplant operation.

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