Complications of Hepatitis

Chronic hepatitis B or C can often lead to more serious health problems. Because the virus primarily affects the liver, people with chronic hepatitis B or C are at risk for:

  • chronic liver disease
  • cirrhosis (scarring of the liver)
  • cancer of the liver (in rare cases)

 When the liver stops functioning normally, liver failure can occur. Complications of liver failure include:

  • bleeding disorders
  • a buildup of fluid in the abdomen
  • increased blood pressure in portal veins that enter the liver
  • kidney failure
  • hepatic encephalopathy, which can involve fatigue, memory loss, and diminished mental abilities due to the build up of toxins that affect the brain (especially ammonia)
  • hepatocellular carcinoma, which is a form of liver cancer

People with chronic hepatitis C are encouraged to avoid alcohol because it can accelerate liver disease and failure. Certain supplements, prescription, and over-the-counter medications can also affect liver function. If you have chronic hepatitis C, check with your doctor before taking any new medications.