Hepatitis is a leading cause of fatty liver disease. If you have tested possible for hepatitis then it is critical for you and your doctor to discuss treatment starting immediately. Hepatitis if left untreated can lead to advanced cirrhosis and hepatocellular carcinoma (liver cancer) both of which are terminal without transplant.
The liver is one of the only organs in the body that is able to replace damaged tissue with new cells rather than scar tissue. However sometimes the liver gets overwhelmed and can't repair itself completely especially if it's still under attack from a virus, drug, or alcohol. Scar tissue develops and can lead to cirrhosis. Cirrhosis is irreversible.
"Hepatitis" means inflammation of the liver and also refers to a group of viral infections that affect the liver . The most common types are Hepatitis A, Hepatitis B, and Hepatitis C.
Viral hepatitis is the leading cause of liver cancer and the most common reason for liver transplantation. An estimated 4.4 million Americans are living with chronic hepatitis; most do not know they are infected.
Treatment isn't always necessary
A diagnosis of hepatitis C infection doesn't necessarily mean you need treatment. If you have only slight liver abnormalities, you may not need treatment, because your risk of future liver problems is very low. Your doctor may recommend follow-up blood tests to monitor for liver problems.
Hepatitis C infection is treated with antiviral medications intended to clear the virus from your body. Your doctor may recommend a combination of medications taken over several weeks. Once you complete a course of treatment, your doctor will test your blood for the hepatitis C virus. If hepatitis C is still present, your doctor may recommend a second round of treatment.
Antiviral medications can cause depression and flu-like signs and symptoms, such as fatigue, fever and headache. Some side effects can be serious enough that treatment must be delayed or stopped in certain cases.
If your liver has been severely damaged, a liver transplant may be an option. During a liver transplant, the surgeon removes your damaged liver and replaces it with a healthy liver. Most transplanted livers come from deceased donors, though a small number come from living donors who donate a portion of their livers.
For people with hepatitis C infection, a liver transplant is not a cure. Treatment with antiviral medications usually continues after a liver transplant, since hepatitis C infection is likely to recur in the new liver.
Vaccinations to protect against other forms of viral hepatitis
Your doctor will likely recommend that you receive vaccines against the hepatitis A and B viruses. These are separate viruses that also can cause liver damage and complicate treatment of hepatitis C.
So at this point it is imperative you are seen by a hepatologist (liver specialist) preferably at transplant center. This does not mean you need a transplant it’s just that they can provide you with far better treatment than a specialist in private practice no matter how good their intentions are. There you can discuss what treatment options are necessary, and if any get started right away while your liver is still in good health. To do nothing could become fatal.
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