Hepatitis C Symptoms + 8 Natural Treatment Options to Manage Them

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round the globe, more than 143 million people are affected by chronic hepatitis C. Approximately 350,000 or more individuals end up losing their lives due to the diseases caused by or related to hepatitis C. In the 20th century, the incidence of hepatitis C has dramatically increased. This is due to a number of factors such as usage of unsterile medical equipment and abuse of drugs. In Central and East Asia as well as the Middle East, the rates of hepatitis C are quite high. And, in countries like Egypt and China, the rates are rather high. In the USA alone, around 2% of the population is troubled by this infection. [1]


What Is Hepatitis C?

Hepatitis is a term used to describe inflammation of the liver and Hepatitis C is the infection that is caused by the Hepatitis C virus, a bloodborne virus. The severity of this liver infection can range from mild to severe.

For some people, the infection can cause short-term illness often referred to as acute Hepatitis C, while for others it can lead to long-term illness or chronic Hepatitis C. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, a majority of people suffering from acute Hepatitis C are highly likely to develop chronic Hepatitis C. It is estimated that around 75% to 85% people with untreated Hepatitis C end up developing chronic Hepatitis C. [2]


What Are The Symptoms Of Hepatitis C?

According to the National Health Service UK, symptoms indicative of Hepatitis C infection are usually not seen when it is in the acute stage. However, sometimes, the signs are noticed a few weeks after the infection. The most commonly reported early signs of this infection are fatigue, high fever, pain in the abdominal area and loss of appetite.

On the other hand, the common symptoms that occur in the case of chronic Hepatitis C infection are pain in the joint and muscles, fatigue, sickness, itchy skin, depression, indigestion, pain in the abdominal area, mood swings and poor concentration. The severity of these symptoms may vary from person to person. [3]

These signs could indicate that the liver is not functioning properly. If you experience, any of these symptoms it is highly recommended to consult a doctor, as a timely diagnosis usually makes a huge difference to the outcome of the treatment process.


What Health Complications Can Hepatitis C Infection Lead To?

As per a report published by National Health Service, UK, around 1 in 3 people with Hepatitis C infection will get cirrhosis within 20-30 years after contracting the infection. Cirrhosis causes scarring of the liver. There is no known cure for this condition. In the advanced stage, cirrhosis can lead to liver failure.  In few cases (1 out of 20), people with hepatitis-induced cirrhosis may end up getting liver cancer. [4]


What Factors Increase A Person’s Likelihood Of Getting Hepatitis C?

The risk of developing Hepatitis C infection is higher among:

  • Health care professionals who may get exposed to the infected blood.
  • People who have either inhaled or injected illicit drugs.
  • People who have HIV.
  • People born before 1992 who got an organ transplant or blood transfusion.
  • People who received a tattoo or piercing with unsterile equipment.
  • Children born to women infected with Hepatitis C
  • People born between 1945 and 1965.
  • People who had hemodialysis for several years. [5]

How Is Hepatitis C Diagnosed?

In general, there are two diagnostic tests that are used for identifying Hepatitis C infection. The first one is an antibody test. A positive antibody test implies that the person has been exposed to the Hepatitis C virus. However, if this test comes as negative despite the prevalence of the symptoms then the person may be suggested to go for a PCR test. This test checks the presence of the hepatitis C virus in the blood. If the PCR test report is positive then it is likely that the infection has already reached the chronic stage. [6]


8 Natural Ways To Manage The Symptoms Of Hepatitis C

Here are 8 natural ways that can help a person get relief from the symptoms of hepatitis C infection:

1. Zinc

It is a well-known fact that zinc is a crucial nutrient that is essential for a wide range of biological activities. Zinc is essential for the liver and also for the proper functioning of the immune system. Apart from that, zinc is also known to possess antioxidant properties. A deficiency of this nutrient can adversely affect cellular immunity and cause damage and oxidation to DNA. Scientific studies show that zinc supplementation can help people suffering from chronic hepatitis C infection cope with various Hepatitis-C-related problems such as body weight loss, gastrointestinal woes and loss of hair in an effective manner. [7]

2. Vitamin D

It is widely known that vitamin D is an essential nutrient for the immune system as well the muscles and nerves. Sunlight is the greatest source of this vitamin. Few researches suggest that individuals suffering from hepatitis C infection are more susceptible to a deficiency of this vitamin. For an infected person whose vitamin D level is below 30 ng/mL, vitamin D supplement is found to be effective in improving the condition of the liver. It is highly recommended to check with the doctor to determine how much vitamin D should be given to someone suffering from this infection. [8]

3. Eating Well

Nutrition plays a significant role in keeping one healthy and helping in recovery. When it comes to improving the health of the liver, nutrition is incredibly important. [9]

By eating properly, a person can help the liver function efficiently and also fight off the chances of developing cirrhosis. It can even prove to be beneficial in safeguarding the liver from problems such as scarring that often causes failure of the organ. By promoting good health, a person can also enhance the ability of the immune system to tackle infections. Instead of a special type of diet, one can eat plenty of fruits, vegetables and whole grains. Consumption of chicken, fish, and eggs is considered good for health as they are rich in protein. If someone suffers from cirrhosis, then it is best to reduce the consumption of salt. [10]

4. Yoga

Yoga is an age-old practice. It involves stretching, performing poses as well as meditating. It can help reduce stress and even aid in pain management caused by the condition or a side effect of a treatment. However, prior to practicing yoga, one should definitely consult the doctor and also share the information with the yoga teacher/guru. That is because, even though in general yoga is popular for its safety, a few yoga poses can prove to be dangerous if your liver has swelling. [11]

5. Massage Therapy

Stress as well as tiredness is known to be the common symptoms of hepatitis C. And, an effective way to manage these distressing symptoms is massage therapy. In this therapy, a therapist strokes, kneads and rubs the muscles along with the soft tissues. Even though this method may not combat hepatitis C, it will aid in reduction of stress and also fight off tiredness. You can ask your health care specialist to refer a massage therapist. [12]

6. Probiotics

Probiotics are live microorganisms that have been a subject of extensive scientific studies over the years. These studies have concluded that when used for therapeutic reasons, probiotics can effectively work against various types of liver diseases. They are not as pricey as conventional treatments. Also, when it comes to tackling the symptoms of different types of liver diseases such as hepatitis C, probiotics have proven to be safe and effective. [13]

7. Avoid Alcohol

Consumption of alcohol while suffering from Hepatitis C enables the troubling virus to continue staying in the body. By either quitting alcohol or at least by reducing its intake, one can help decrease the virus level. Also, since the person suffering from this problem already has a relatively weak liver, he or she should do his/her best to steer clear of alcohol as it can make a person more susceptible to a sever disease affecting the organ. Most importantly, alcohol intake can reduce the effectiveness of the medications used for hepatitis C. If someone is taking medications for tackling the symptoms of hepatitis C then alcohol can exacerbate the side effects of such medications. [14]

8. Do Gentle Physical Activity

Individuals suffering from this disease should try engaging in gentle physical activity all through the week to deal with the telltale signs of hepatitis C. Symptoms such as fatigue and tiredness can be handled well with activities like Pilates, qigong and even Tai chi. In fact, even a simple stroll in the open air can significantly improve one’s energy level. It can not just prove to be beneficial for the body but also for one’s mind as well as spirit and help him or her fight off the frustrating and discomforting signs of hepatitis C. [15]


Conclusion

Early detection of the hepatitis C infection can help a person manage the symptoms and reduce their severity. While medications are the conventional way of dealing with the infection, the aforementioned natural ways are known to be beneficial and could help a person get relief from the discomforting symptoms that accompany this infection. By eating healthy and nutritious food, staying away from alcohol and drugs, staying active and including probiotics in the diet among other things, the person suffering from this chronic condition can get the much-needed relief. Moreover, when compared to the conventional ways to get relief from the symptoms, the natural ways are undoubtedly less expensive and effective. [16]