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Hepatitis C is a viral infection which is spread through the blood, causing inflammation in the liver which may cause serious liver disease if not treated.

It is a virus that is transmitted when blood from an infected person gets into the bloodstream of another.

The condition does not cause any obvious symptoms, with around 50% of infected people being completely unaware they have it.

“It’s estimated around 118,000 people in the UK had chronic hepatitis C in 2019,” states the NHS.

The national health body added: “You can become infected with it if you come into contact with the blood of an infected person.”

When the liver is inflamed with hepatitis C, a number of abnormalities occur in the liver.

This can be extremely dangerous as the liver is vital for overall health helping with:

Activating enzymes to aid a variety of bodily functions
Converting nutrients to energy
Producing bile to aid digestion
Breaking down carbohydrates, fats and proteins
Storing iron
Synthesising blood proteins and helping with blood clotting factors
Symptoms of hepatitis C

Many people who have hepatitis C are unaware because they don’t have any symptoms of the infection.

These may develop later on as their liver becomes “increasingly damaged,” according to the NHS.

Only one in every three or four people have symptoms during the first six months, which is known as acute hepatitis C.

If they do develop, here are some of the signs to be aware of:

Abdominal pain
Dark yellow urine
Fatigue
Fever
Jaundice
Light coloured stools
Loss of appetite.
Hepatitis C and fatty liver disease
Fatty liver is very common in hepatitis C virus patients.

Recent research has begun to define the connection between fatty liver disease and hepatitis C.

“You can have fatty liver disease on its own, or it can accompany a hepatitis C infection,” says Digestive Disease Consultants.

It added: “If you have hepatitis C your chances of developing fatty liver disease is higher than developing the disease by itself.”

According to the data, about 50% of people with hepatitis C also have fatty liver disease.

High fibrosis is also synonymous with both conditions which means thickening or scarring of the tissue.

Treatment for hepatitis C
If you’re concerned you may be at risk of the condition, lab tests are a way to help show your GP if you’re at risk.

“A diagnosis of hepatitis C is confirmed through a blood test,” added Digestive Disease Consultants.

“To confirm the diagnosis of fatty liver, your doctor may order an ultrasound or CT scan to get a view of the liver.

“Your doctor may also order a liver biopsy to see how far the disease has progressed.”