Hepatitis C can cause rheumatic diseases

Hepatitis C virus or HCV is usually the main cause of liver inflammation which can lead to liver failure and liver transplant. Still HCV doesn’t produce just liver inflammation it is also associated with hematologic, renal, dermatologic, rheumatic, and autoimmune disorders. Some of the earliest symptoms for HCV infections are arthritis symptoms like joint inflammation, muscle pain and weakness. These symptoms can appear early before a person evens knows it has HCV. Also, joint swelling and inflammation of blood vessels (vasculitis) can occur as a sign of HCV infections.

hepatitis C

A few quick facts about HCV and rheumatic diseases

  • Problems which show arthritis like joint pains and muscle pains are very common in a patient with an HCV infection;
  • Most infections with the hepatitis virus have no apparent symptoms in the first stages;
  • These days the risk of getting HCV through a blood transfusion is very low but before 1990 this was the best way to get infected;
  • Usually HCV is sent from one person to another through bodily fluids like sperm, vaginal secretions and blood;
  • If you use injectable drugs or have engage in high risk sex behavior (like multiple partners, gay sex and so on) you increase your chances of getting infected. That’s why people who are HCV positive should also get tested for HIV;
  • If you are diagnosed with a rheumatic disease like arthritis you should take an HCV test infection too.

Why does HCV cause rheumatic diseases?

Usually all that happens in our body during an HCV infection is the way the body reacts to the virus. The joint and muscle pains are due to the fact that the immune system is stimulated continuously to fight the virus. That’s why the body starts to show symptoms of rheumatic disease which in time get to cryoglobulinemia to kidney failure. Cryoglobulinemia appears when abnormal proteins in the blood (cryoglobulins) get solid when exposed to cold temperatures.

HCV-related rheumatic disorders can affect people who tested HCV positive of both sexes and all ages and races. It can even be transmitted from mother to baby during birth (in rare cases).

How to live with HCV rheumatic diseased?

These problems can be really annoying and they can make your life pretty hard if you don’t take action. You need to go and see a good rheumatologist who will advice you how and what to do in your case. Still you must keep a strong connection between the two doctors that are treating you: the one treating your liver and the one treating your joints and muscle pains. The treatments can be very complex in both cases and you never know which medication can attack the other.

You must act quickly once you were tested positive as the liver problems can aggravate pretty fast leading to liver failure or cancer. There are support groups for learning how to live with a rheumatic disease, that can help you cope with the new situation if you feel the need.

Good to remember

An HCV infection doesn’t necessary mean that you have hepatitis. You can be a carrier and still have the muscle and joint problems. If you get these problems go and get tested as soon as possible.

HCV doesn’t feel like anything. Besides the rheumatic diseases it doesn’t show any other early signs. If you ignore the arthritis you may be ignoring an HCV infection too.

There is treatment for rheumatic disease but for early stages. In the future there may be more help even for those who suffer from it for a long time.

Treatments of these rheumatic problems do exist. New drugs have improved treatment.