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.
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, the 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 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.
Hepatitis C is usually treated with combined therapy, consisting of:
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 unsuccessful cases, chronic hepatitis C can cause 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
2015 Sexually transmitted diseases treatment guidelines. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website. Available at: http://www.cdc.gov/std/tg2015/default.htm. Updated October 6, 2015. Accessed October 8, 2015.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Sexual transmission of hepatitis C virus among HIV-infected men who have sex with men—New York City, 2005-2010. MMWR Morb Mortal Wkly Rep. 2011;60(28):945-950.
Chang MH, Gordon LA, Fung HB. Boceprevir: A protease inhibitor for the treatment of hepatitis C. Clin Ther. 2012;34(10):2021-2138.
Explore blood transfusion? National Heart Lung and Blood Institute website. Available at: http://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health/health-topics/topics/bt. Updated January 30, 2012. Accessed October 8, 2015.
Hepatitis C. EBSCO DynaMed Plus website. Available at: http://www.dynamed.com/topics/dmp~AN~T115157/Hepatitis-C. Updated August 30, 2016. Accessed September 28, 2016.
Viral hepatitis—hepatitis C information. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website. Available at: http://www.cdc.gov/hepatitis/hcv/index.htm. Updated May 31, 2015. Accessed October 8, 2015.
What I need to know about hepatitis C. National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases website. Available at: http://www.niddk.nih.gov/health-information/health-topics/liver-disease/hepatitis-c/Pages/ez.aspx. Updated December 19, 2012. Accessed October 8, 2014.
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 2015 by Daus Mahnke, MD
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.
Copyright © 2012 EBSCO Publishing All rights reserved.
What can we help you find?close ×