Hepatitis C is an infection of the liver.
Hepatitis C is caused by the hepatitis C virus (HCV). The hepatitis C virus is spread through contact with the blood of an infected person or IV drug use.
A woman with hepatitis can pass the virus on to her baby during birth. The hepatitis C virus is not spread through food or water.
Factors that may increase your chance of hepatitis C include:
Most people with hepatitis C do not have symptoms. Over time, untreated disease can cause serious liver damage.
Symptoms may include:
Chronic hepatitis C may cause some of the above symptoms, as well as:
Serious complications of untreated hepatitis C include:
You will be asked about your symptoms and medical history. A physical exam will be done. You will also discuss your risk factors.
Your bodily fluids and tissues may be tested. This can be done with:
Your liver function may be evaluated. This can be done with liver function studies.
Images may be needed of your liver. This can be done with an ultrasound.
In some people, hepatitis C may resolve on its own.
The goals of treatment are to attain a cure and prevent further liver damage. Hepatitis C is usually treated with:
You will be advised to stop drinking alcohol and smoking, which can further damage your liver, especially when undergoing treatment. If you have problems stopping alcohol, your doctor can refer you to counseling or a treatment program. There are several ways to successfully quit smoking.
In severe cases with cirrhosis and serious liver damage a liver transplant may be needed, although it does not typically cure hepatitis C.
To prevent becoming infected with hepatitis C:
To prevent spreading hepatitis C to others if you are infected:
American Liver Foundation
Hepatitis Foundation International
Canadian Liver Foundation
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12/9/2013 DynaMed Plus Systematic Literature Surveillance http://www.dynamed.com/topics/dmp~AN~T115157/Hepatitis-C: US Food & Drug Administration. FDA news release: FDA approves new treatment for hepatitis C virus. Food & Drug Administration website. Accessed October 8, 2015.
4/29/2014 12/9/2013 DynaMed Plus Systematic Literature Surveillance http://www.dynamed.com/topics/dmp~AN~T115157/Hepatitis-C: American Association for the Study of Liver Diseases/Infectious Diseases Society of America (AASLD/IDSA) recommendations on testing, managing, and treating hepatitis C. Available at: http://www.hcvguidelines.org/fullreport. Accessed October 8, 2015.
10/8/2014 DynaMed Plus Systematic Literature Surveillance http://www.dynamed.com/topics/dmp~AN~T115157/Hepatitis-C: British Association of Sexual Health and HIV (BASHH) recommendations on testing for sexually transmitted infections in men who have sex with men. Available at: http://www.bashh.org/documents/BASHH%20Recommendations%20for%20testing%20for%20STIs%20in%20MSM%20-%20FINAL.pdf. Accessed October 8, 2015.
Last reviewed August 2017 by Michael Woods, MD FAAP
Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.