by Justin Freeland
Hepatitis C is an infectious disease affecting an estimated 180 million people worldwide. Caused by the HVC virus, Hepatitis C will attack the body causing cirrhosis of the liver, leaving heavy scaring in cases where prolonged infection persists. The disease is most commonly spread by blood-to-blood exposure but can also be transmitted sexually. Unfortunately, there is no vaccine to prevent the Hepatitis C virus.
There are two phases of Hepatitis C: Acute and Chronic. The Acute phase refers to the first 6 months after infection. There are little to no symptoms present in this phase. If symptoms do occur, they are generally nothing that may lead to a direct diagnosis of the infection. If diagnosed during this phase, the chances of clearing the infection with treatment are extremely high; over 90%, with half the time of treatment. There is also up to a 40% chance that the infection will spontaneously leave the body without treatment. If not taken care of however, 50-80% of cases will develop into Chronic Hepatitis C.
Symptoms during the Chronic phase begin to show more clearly. However the disease is usually found during routine check-ups where blood or liver function tests come back differently than expected. Patients have reported feeling flu-like symptoms, fatigue, joint pain, nausea, depression, loss of appetite and problems sleeping. Untreated Hepatitis C can cause cirrhosis of the liver in as little as 15 years. However, there is still hope for people with Chronic Hepatitis C. The success rate of treatments in this phase is above 50%, although it can be quite physically demanding.
Generally treatment consists of a combination of Pegylated Interferon Alpha-2a or 2b, as well as Ribavirin. These drugs may increase the virological response of patients with Hepatitis C to help fight the disease. Drug therapy can last anywhere from 24 to 48 weeks.
Medical Marijuana can help to combat Hepatitis C twofold; both by alleviating the symptoms caused by the disease and also the side effects of the treatment. Sativa dominant strains can help patients suffering from exhaustion and depression. Indicadominant strains are great to combat problems sleeping. Both indicas and sativaswill help to stimulate appetite and fight nausea!
If you suspect you may have been infected with Hepatitis C, seek medical advice immediately. Being proactive about the disease is the best way to keep it under control. If you're suffering from Hepatitis C, talk with your budtender today and let us recommend a strain to fit your needs!