World Hepatitis Day — Learn about hepatitis C from AboutKidsHealth

To mark World Hepatitis Day on July 28, AboutKidsHealth is sharing information about Hepatitis C.

What is hepatitis C?

Hepatitis C is a virus that causes liver inflammation. The liver is an organ in the abdomen that helps the body remove toxins and waste, digest food, and stores the energy we get from food. Over time, hepatitis C may cause irritation and scarring in the liver, making it difficult for the liver to perform these tasks properly.

How is hepatitis C spread?

A person can become infected with hepatitis C if they come in contact with the blood of someone who already has the virus. This can happen through contact with needles or other equipment that have the virus on them. The virus can also be acquired by sharing personal items that may have blood on them, such as toothbrushes and razors, or during pregnancy or childbirth if the mother has hepatitis C. Hepatitis C cannot be spread by hugging, kissing, sneezing, coughing or breastfeeding.

How is hepatitis C treated?

For most people, hepatitis C does not go away on its own. There are medications available for teens, but most teens wait until adulthood to receive treatment as long as there is no sign of significant liver damage developing.

Children and teenagers with hepatitis C can help their liver stay healthy with regular physical activity and a healthy diet, as well as by getting immunized and avoiding alcohol and other types of drugs that may damage the liver. They should also talk to their health-care provider or pharmacist before taking any medications that are processed by the liver or any herbal, natural or other alternative or complementary treatments.

Blood work and ultrasounds will be done to monitor the liver.

Learn more about hepatitis C with the following resources for parents, children and teenagers:

AboutKidsHealth is SickKids' health education website, which offers more than 3,500 articles, illustrations and videos on a range of paediatric health topics. For more information on hepatitis and other health topics, visit aboutkidshealth.ca