Hepatitis C (cont.)

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What conditions outside the liver are associated with hepatitis C infection?

Most of the signs and symptoms of HCV infection relate to the liver. Less commonly, HCV infection causes conditions outside of the liver.

  • HCV infection can cause the body to produce unusual antibodies called 'cryoglobulins'. These cryoglobulins cause inflammation of the arteries (vasculitis) which may damage the skin, joints, and kidneys. Patients with cryoglobulinemia (cryoglobulins in the blood) may have joint pain, arthritis, a raised purple rash on the legs, generalized pain or swelling. In addition, these patients may develop Raynaud's phenomenon in which the fingers and toes turn color (white, then purple, then red) and become painful at cold temperatures.
  • Two skin conditions, lichen planus and porphyria cutanea tarda, have been associated with chronic infection with HCV.
  • For reasons that are unclear, diabetes is three times more common among patients with chronic HCV infection than in the general population.
  •  Low platelet counts may occur as a result of the destruction of platelets by antibodies.
  • HCV also is associated with B-cell lymphoma, a cancer of the lymph system.
Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 2/2/2014

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