About 3.2 million people in the United States have chronic hepatitis C, a liver infection caused by a virus. Most people don’t know they have hepatitis C because they don’t feel or look sick.
How do I get it?
Hepatitis C is spread through contact with the blood of someone who has the virus. It can be either “acute” (occurring up to 6 months after someone is exposed, and lasting a few weeks) , or “chronic” –(a more serious, long-lasting illness).
What are the symptoms of acute Hepatitis C?
Most people with acute hepatitis C do not have any symptoms. However, some people have mild to severe symptoms soon after being infected, including
Loss of appetite
Jaundice (yellow color in the skin or eyes)
What are the symptoms of chronic Hepatitis C?
Most people with chronic hepatitis C do not have any symptoms. However, if a person has been infected for many years, his or her liver may be damaged. In many cases, there are no symptoms of the disease until liver problems have developed. In people who don’t have symptoms, hepatitis C is often detected during routine blood tests to measure liver function and liver enzyme (protein produced by the liver) levels.
How serious is Chronic Hepatitis C?
Chronic hepatitis C is serious. It can cause long-term health problems, including liver damage, liver failure, liver cancer, or even death. It is the leading cause of cirrhosis and liver cancer and the most common reason for liver transplant in the United States. Approximately 15,000 people die every year from hepatitis C-related liver disease.
How soon after exposure to Hepatitis C do symptoms appear?
If symptoms occur, the average time is 6-7 weeks after exposure, but this can range from 2 weeks to 6 months. However, many people with the hepatitis C virus do not develop symptoms.
Can a person spread Hepatitis C without having symptoms?
Yes, even if a person with hepatitis C has no symptoms, he or she can still spread the virus to others.
How is Acute Hepatitis C treated?
There is no medication available to treat acute hepatitis C infection. Doctors usually recommend rest, adequate nutrition, and fluids.
How is Chronic Hepatitis C treated?
People with chronic hepatitis C should be monitored regularly for signs of liver disease and evaluated for treatment. Dr. Prokupek specializes in treating hepatitis, and can discuss treatment options with you.
Why Dr. Prokupek?
As an award-winning, board-certified internist and gastroenterologist, Dale Prokupek, MD specializes in diagnosing and treating hepatitis C. With over 14 years of experience treating the most complex cases, he understands the need for thorough evaluation, aggressive treatment, and close follow-up. Dr. Prokupek uses the most current, state-of-the-art medical equipment to accurately diagnose hepatitis.
Dale Prokupek, MD receives outstanding reviews from patients, and has been awarded the Patient’s Choice Award. He is also an associate clinical professor of medicine at the Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA. Dr. Prokupek sees patients at his private practice in Beverly Hills, and at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center.