What is it?

Hepatitis C Virus (HCV) is usually discovered by accident because most cases have no symptoms. One of the symptoms, however, is elevated liver enzymes. Your physician will usually request more blood tests (a hepatitis A, B, and C profile) to confirm the presence of the virus and determine its cause. If you test positive for hepatitis C, additional blood tests are requested to confirm that the infection is active, how much virus is present, and the type of hepatitis C. How much liver damage has taken place can’t be accurately determined by testing the blood. Therefore, a liver needle biopsy is usually recommended.

Who's at Risk?

Studies show that hepatitis C is more active and is more likely to progress to liver failure in people who drink alcohol. Therefore, alcohol should no longer be consumed, especially since treating HCV with drugs does not seem to work in people who drink alcohol. Another factor that increases damage to the liver is being overweight. This happens because fat deposited in the liver increases scarring that’s caused by inflammation from the virus. This scar tissue can lead to cirrhosis. Therefore, patients are advised to stay within 10 percent of their ideal weight.