Liver Hepatitis C Living Prognosis

Hepatitis C is a virus that can cause significant damage to the liver. In some cases, hepatitis C is cleared from the body spontaneously during the initial (acute) phase of infection. However, 75 to 85 percent of cases of hepatitis C go on to become chronic, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) (2010). In cases of chronic hepatitis C, prognosis depends largely on whether complications have developed, the type of hepatitis C and its responsiveness to treatment.

Hepatitis C Prognosis: Importance of Early Diagnosis

Early detection offers the best chance of treatment before the onset of hepatitis C complications. If you’ve engaged in high-risk activities, such as intravenous drug use, or had a transplant or transfusion before 1992, consider hepatitis C screening–even if you aren’t experiencing symptoms of hepatitis C.

In addition, if you work in the health care field and you have been exposed to hepatitis C via a needle stick or other accident, testing may detect the virus in its early stages.

Effects of Virus Genotype on Hepatitis C Prognosis

Numerous genotypes of the hepatitis C virus have been identified. Genotype has a significant effect on the prognosis of hepatitis C, as some are more responsive to treatment than others.

The National Digestive Diseases Information Clearinghouse (2006) reports that chronic hepatitis C genotypes 2 and 3 experience a sustained response to antiviral therapy in 70 to 80 percent of cases. Genotype 1, on the other hand, results in a 40 to 55 percent rate of sustained response to medication. Weight and gender may also affect an individual’s responsiveness to treatment.

Complications of Hepatitis C

Chronic hepatitis C infection causes persistent inflammation in the liver. This inflammation can lead to serious liver damage over time. The CDC (2010) reports that of those who are infected with hepatitis C, 60 to 70 percent will eventually develop chronic liver disease, and 5 to 20 percent will develop cirrhosis over a period of several decades.

Furthermore, 1 to 5 percent of those with hepatitis C will die from cirrhosis or liver cancer (CDC, 2010). The severity of liver damage affects the prognosis of hepatitis C.

Lifestyle Changes and Hepatitis C

Protecting your liver and taking good care of your overall health may help to improve your hepatitis C prognosis. Reduce further liver damage by avoiding alcohol, which is a leading cause of cirrhosis. Check with your doctor before taking any new prescription or over-the-counter medications. Eating a healthy, balanced diet and staying hydrated can also help facilitate liver function.

Resources

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2010). HVC FAQs for health professionals. Retrieved October 10, 2010, from http://www.cdc.gov/hepatitis/HCV/HCVfaq.htm#section1.

Hepatitis Foundation International. (n.d.). How to live with hepatitis. Retrieved October 10, 2010, from http://www.hepfi.org/living/liv_living.html#live_with_hep_c.

Medline Plus. (2009). Hepatitis C. retrieved October 10, 2010, from http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/000284.htm.

National Digestive Diseases Information Clearinghouse. (2006). Chronic hepatitis C: Current disease management. Retrieved October 10, 2010, from http://digestive.niddk.nih.gov/ddiseases/pubs/chronichepc/#g.