Many people find out by accident that they have the virus. They find out when
their blood is tested before a blood donation or as part of a routine checkup. Often people with hepatitis C have high levels of liver
enzymes in their blood.
If your doctor
thinks you may have hepatitis C, he or she will talk to you about having a
blood test. If the test shows hepatitis C
antibodies, then you have had hepatitis C at some point. A
second test can tell if you still have hepatitis C.
When blood tests
show that you have hepatitis C, you may need a
liver biopsy to see if the virus has caused scarring
in your liver. During a liver biopsy, a doctor will insert a needle between
your ribs to collect a small sample of liver tissue to look at under a
Some people prefer to
find out on their own if they have been exposed to hepatitis C. You can buy a
home test called a Home Access Hepatitis C Check kit at most drugstores. If the
test shows that you have been exposed to the virus in the past, be sure to talk
to your doctor to find out if you have the virus now.
You and your doctor need to
decide if you should take antiviral medicine to treat hepatitis C. It may not
be right for everyone. If your liver damage is mild, you may not need
If you do take medicine, the best treatment is a
combination of medicines that fight infection. The medicines used include peginterferon, ribavirin, and boceprevir or telaprevir.
How well these medicines work depends on how damaged your liver is, how much
virus you have in your liver, and what type of hepatitis C you have.
Taking care of yourself is an important part of the treatment for
hepatitis C. Some people with hepatitis C don't notice a change in the way
they feel. Others feel tired, sick, or depressed. You may feel better if you
exercise and eat healthy foods. To help prevent further liver damage, avoid
alcohol and illegal drugs and certain medicines that can be hard on your