Medical Q&As

Acute Hepatitis C - explain?

What does the term acute Hepatitis C mean and what’s the prognosis?

Hepatitis C is a viral infection that results in inflammation of the liver. The prefix acute is capable of different interpretations. Sometimes it is used in the sense of the early phase of an infectious disease. For example the acute phase of any common childhood illness would refer to the early days of the infection when symptoms begin. Sometimes the term acute is used to indicate a severe or aggressive start to an illness. So the context in which the term is being used is important. Strictly speaking when doctors use the term they are usually referring to the early phase of an infectious disease. It is important to stress that many people with hepatitis C do not have any symptoms in the early stages of the infection and are usually diagnosed on the basis of blood testing. The principal concern with hepatitis C is that a significant number of infected people go on to develop chronic liver disease, which requires that most sufferers need to be followed up over an extended period of time. This follow up would include regular blood testing in order to gauge if the chronic form of inflammation in the liver had developed. Between 20 to 30% of people infected with hepatitis C develop cirrhosis of the liver. Approximately 1% of sufferers develop cancer of the liver. However, many people with hepatitis C are relatively unaffected by the virus but they still need to be monitored on an ongoing basis to confirm that their liver continues to function normally.