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is inflammation of the liver caused by hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection.
Common symptoms include the following:
- Dark urine or pale bowel movements
- Jaundice (yellow skin or eyes) and itchy skin
- Joint pain, body aches, or weakness
- Loss of appetite, nausea, or vomiting
- Pain in the upper right side of your abdomen
Seek care immediately if:
- You have severe abdominal pain.
- You are too dizzy to stand up.
- You vomit blood or material that looks like coffee grounds.
- You feel confused or are very sleepy.
- Your bowel movements are red or black, and sticky.
Contact your healthcare provider if:
- You have a fever.
- You are vomiting and cannot keep food or liquids down.
- Your abdomen or legs have a rash or are swollen.
- You are bruising easily.
- You have questions or concerns about your condition or care.
Treatment for hepatitis C
may include antiviral medicines to help fight the virus that causes hepatitis C and keep it from spreading in your body. Medicines may also prevent or decrease liver swelling and damage. The type of medicine you need will depend on how severe your hepatitis is. It will also depend on if you have liver damage. Surgery for a liver transplant may be done if you have severe liver disease or liver failure.
Manage hepatitis C:
- Do not drink alcohol or use illegal drugs. Alcohol and drugs can increase liver damage. Ask your healthcare provider for more information if you need help quitting.
- Do not smoke. Nicotine can damage blood vessels and make it more difficult to manage hepatitis C. Do not use e-cigarettes or smokeless tobacco in place of cigarettes or to help you quit. They still contain nicotine. Ask your healthcare provider for information if you currently smoke and need help quitting.
- Eat a variety of healthy foods. Healthy foods include fruits, vegetables, low-fat dairy products, beans, and lean meats and fish. Ask if you need to be on a special diet.
- Get more rest. Slowly return to your normal activities when you feel better.
- Talk to your healthcare provider about vaccines. You may need to get vaccines to protect you from hepatitis A or B. You may also need a pneumonia vaccine. Get the flu vaccine each year as soon as it is available. Ask your healthcare provider about other vaccines you need.
Prevent the spread of HCV:
HCV is carried in the blood and other body fluids, such as semen or vaginal fluids. The following can help you prevent the spread of HCV:
- Cover any open cuts or scratches. If blood from your wound gets on a surface, clean the surface with bleach right away. Put on gloves before you clean. Throw away any items with blood or body fluids on them, as directed by your healthcare provider.
- Do not share personal items. These items include toothbrushes, nail clippers, and razors. Do not share needles.
- Tell household members and sex partners that you have HCV. They should be tested for HCV. Do not have sex, including oral and anal sex, until your healthcare provider tells you it is okay. If you have sex, make sure the male partner wears a latex condom.
- Protect your baby. Ask your healthcare provider if it is safe for you to breastfeed. If you are pregnant, ask your healthcare provider for more information on keeping your baby from getting HCV.
- Do not donate blood, body organs, semen, or other tissues. Donations are checked for HCV, but it is best not to donate.
Follow up with your healthcare provider as directed:
You may need ongoing tests or treatment. Write down your questions so you remember to ask them during your visits.
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The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.
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