The liver is the largest organ in the abdominal cavity, with metabolic functions that keep us healthy. But this organ is often diseased by drinking alcohol, food toxins, bacteria, and viruses. The hepatitis C virus is one of those microorganisms that affect liver function, and when it does, it usually causes a long-standing (chronic) disease.
But what is hepatitis C and how is the diagnosis made? Is it possible to prevent hepatitis C and treat these patients successfully? We’re covering all of these topics in today’s article.
What is hepatitis C?
Hepatitis C is a viral infection caused by the hepatitis C virus (HCV). It causes inflammation in the liver and chronic disease that leads to severe lesions in this organ. According to the World Health Organization, there are an estimated 71 million cases of hepatitis C around the world. Close to 400,000 of these patients are expected to die from complications of hepatitis C, usually liver cancer and cirrhosis.
Hepatitis C virus comes from the family Flaviviridae and the genus Flavivirus. It is a spherical virus with a single strand of RNA. The virus has a very close relationship with the dengue virus and the virus that causes yellow fever. It usually infects hepatocytes but may be able to infect lymphocytes, too. After the infection has taken over the liver cells, the virus can produce up to 10 trillion viruses every day. This leads to a massive infection over time, and it is estimated that 50% of liver cells are compromised with an HCV infection when the disease becomes chronic.