MEDICAL ANIMATION TRANSCRIPT: If you have Hepatitis C, your liver is inflamed because you have been infected with the Hepatitis C virus. Your liver is the largest organ inside your body and performs many important functions. The functional parts of your liver are called hepatic lobules. Your hepatic lobules filter all of the blood in your body. As your blood passes through them, your hepatic lobules breakdown harmful substances, remove bacteria and worn out blood cells, and form clotting factors that control bleeding. After a meal, your liver makes and stores nutrients to provide your body with energy when needed. Your liver also makes a substance called bile. Your gall bladder stores the bile and releases it into your small intestine to help digest fats in the food you eat. If you have Hepatitis C, the virus entered your body when you were exposed to the blood or other body fluids from a person infected with the virus. This could have happened from sharing a drug syringe with an infected person. Other ways you may have been exposed to the virus include: having sex with someone infected by the virus; sharing personal hygiene items, such as razors or toothbrushes, used by an infected person; direct contact with the blood or body fluids of an infected person; or when a mother passes it to her baby during birth. During the early, or acute phase, of a Hepatitis C infection, the Hepatitis C virus enters your liver and invades your liver cells. Once inside your liver cells, the virus begins to make copies of itself. During the copying process, changes called mutations occur frequently in the virus' genetic material, leading to new strains of the virus. In response to the viral infection, your body sends immune cells to attack both a virus and the liver cells infected with the virus. As a result, these liver cells become inflamed and then die. Over time, scar tissue forms around dead and infected liver cells. The scar tissue prevents your liver from working properly. If you have a chronic Hepatitis C infection, your liver contains a large amount of scar tissue, called cirrhosis, which limits blood flow and results in permanent shrinking and hardening of your liver. A vaccine contains weakend, or inactive, viruses that train your immune system to recognize and attack certain viruses. However, frequent mutations in the Hepatitis C virus make it likely that you will catch a version of the virus not contained in a vaccine. As a result, there is no effective vaccine for the Hepatitis C virus. If you have Hepatitis C, your immune system alone may destroy all of the Hepatitis C virus is in your body. However, most people infected with the virus develop chronic Hepatitis C, a condition in which your immune system is not able to destroy all of the viruses in your body after six months. If you have chronic Hepatitis C and your immune system can't get rid of the virus completely, your doctor may prescribe a combination therapy consisting of an anti-viral medication called Ribavirin, and injections of Interferon, a medication that strengthens your immune system. These drugs are most effective against Hepatitis C when taken together. If you have a severe case of chronic Hepatitis C, your doctor may recommend a liver transplant operation.
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