Hepatitis C Cure: Symptoms, Transmission, Treatments, and Costs

  • Medical Author:

    Sandra Gonzalez Gompf, MD, FACP is a U.S. board-certified Infectious Disease subspecialist. Dr. Gompf received a Bachelor of Science from the University of Miami, and a Medical Degree from the University of South Florida. Dr. Gompf completed residency training in Internal Medicine at the University of South Florida followed by subspecialty fellowship training there in Infectious Diseases under the directorship of Dr. John T. Sinnott, IV.

  • Medical Editor: Charles Patrick Davis, MD, PhD
    Charles Patrick Davis, MD, PhD

    Charles Patrick Davis, MD, PhD

    Dr. Charles "Pat" Davis, MD, PhD, is a board certified Emergency Medicine doctor who currently practices as a consultant and staff member for hospitals. He has a PhD in Microbiology (UT at Austin), and the MD (Univ. Texas Medical Branch, Galveston). He is a Clinical Professor (retired) in the Division of Emergency Medicine, UT Health Science Center at San Antonio, and has been the Chief of Emergency Medicine at UT Medical Branch and at UTHSCSA with over 250 publications.

Can You Drink Alcohol If You Have Hepatitis C?

Hepatitis is inflammation of the liver. Hepatitis C viral (HCV) infection causes this inflammation. There are several risk factors for contracting HCV infection due to the hepatitis C virus. One serious risk factor is drinking alcohol with HCV infection. The combination of HCV and alcohol can cause complications, and may result in more severe and serious liver injury including chronic cirrhosis (scarring of the liver). It also increases your chances of developing liver cancer; having an alcohol induced increase in viral replication; and rapid mutation of the hep C virus, which creates complications like:

  • Greater viral capacity
  • Increased liver cell death
  • Increased inflammatory response
  • Suppression of the immune responses
  • Fatty liver disease
  • Iron overload (hemochromatosis)

Reference: Schiff, ER, MD. et al. "Hepatitis C and Alcohol." National Institute of Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism.

What is hepatitis C (HVC, hep C), and what are the signs and symptoms of infection?

Hepatitis C (HVC, hep C) is one of several viruses that cause hepatitis (inflammation of the liver). It's hard for the human immune system to eliminate the virus from the body, and 85% of infections with hep C become chronic. Over decades, chronic infection damages the liver and can cause end-stage liver disease in the form of cirrhosis. Even though the damage to organ health is occurring, it usually doesn't cause symptoms or signs, and an infected patient's liver enzymes may be normal or only slightly elevated. In the U.S., infection with the hepatitis C virus is the most common cause of chronic hepatitis, and the most common reason for liver transplantation. Chronic infection also is associated with liver cancer.

Hepatitis C infection may cause disease outside of the liver (extrahepatic). Extrahepatic inflammatory conditions may include:

More importantly, chronic inflammation caused by chronic hepatitis C can lead to:

Symptoms occur usually late (years) after infection and may include:

How do you get hepatitis C, and is it contagious?

Hepatitis refers to any cause of liver inflammation and scarring of the liver (cirrhosis). It is contagious, and is spread from person-to-person by blood-to-blood contact. Causes of hepatitis A, B, C and E are viruses: Other types of noninfectious causes of hepatitis include:

How are hepatitis A, B, and E spread?

  • Transmission of hepatitis A and E: These forms of the virus are acquired from improper hygiene during food or drink preparation by someone who's infected.
  • Transmission of hepatitis B: This form is spread by blood-to-blood or sexual contact.
Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 4/13/2017

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