Hepatitis C Virus Lives In Your Liver
(NC)-Your liver works 24 hours a day, performing over 500 vital functions for your body. Most of the blood that returns to your heart passes through the liver. Your body can’t function without it.
The hepatitis C virus lives in your liver. It inflames liver cells, which, over time, affects the way your liver functions. The effect of the hepatitis C virus varies from person to person. There is no way to predict how your body will react to it. There are, however, some things that are known:
You can live with hepatitis C for many years without experiencing any major symptoms, or you might simply feel tired. Symptoms can come and go over time. Their presence or absence does not tell you the degree to which liver damage may or may not be occurring.
Chronic, long-term inflammation of the liver can cause liver cell damage and result in fibrosis (liver scarring), or even cirrhosis. This damage can occur in as little as five years, or as long as 30 years.
About 20% of chronic hepatitis patients develop cirrhosis within 10 to 20 years.
Use of recreational drugs or alcohol can speed up inflammation and the development of fibrosis or cirrhosis.
There is an increased risk of liver cancer in people with cirrhosis.
The good news is that current drug treatments can be very effective for people with hepatitis C. Combined with proper nutrition, plenty of rest, and avoidance of recreational drugs and alcohol, these treatments help many who have the virus lead relatively healthy lives.
If you think you may be at risk of getting hepatitis C, see your doctor. The virus can be detected by a simple blood test. For more information on how to keep your liver happy and healthy, visit Health Canada’s Web site at www.healthcanada.ca/hepc.