Common Complications of Hepatitis

Hepatitis can progress to, or be complicated by other diseases. Some of these diseases, like fibrosis and cirrhosis, are very common. Fortunately, some of these complications, like liver failure, can be prevented. If you have hepatitis, here are some other conditions and complications you should be aware of. 



Hepatitis virus

One of the most common complications of chronic hepatitis is fibrosis, a condition caused by liver scarring. In cases of fibrosis, the liver is damaged by constant inflammation, creating scar tissue to repair itself. Unfortunately, this scar tissue keeps the liver from working as it once did. The good news is that if fibrosis is controlled in time and limited to a small part of your liver, the rest of the organ can work harder and keep up with its normal functions. If fibrosis develops and becomes more extensive, then it is described as cirrhosis.


Cirrhosis of the Liver

Extensive fibrosis is called cirrhosis. Hepatitis B, hepatitis C, and alcoholic hepatitis can cause cirrhosis, as well as fatty liver disease and other liver-related conditions. Cirrhosis-related scarring is often irreversible and in severe cases and without treatment, the best course of action may be a liver transplant


Cancer of the Liver

Liver cancer is a complication of cirrhosis. Liver cancer may develop as one of two types: hepatocellular carcinoma and cholangiolar carcinoma. Hepatocellular carcinoma affects the liver cells, while cholangiolar carcinoma affects the bile ducts.


Liver Failure

Liver failure is a serious, but uncommon, complication of hepatitis. Doctors use different terms to describe variations of liver failure, such as fulminant liver failure, fulminant hepatic failure or acute liver failure. If your liver no longer functions, this can lead your body to shut down, eventually causing you to die.

There are many specific causes of liver failure, but in general, failure results when your liver is so damaged that it is unable to keep up with your body's needs.



Glomerulonephritis is a kidney disorder caused by inflammation most often related to an immune response. It is most commonly seen in those with chronic hepatitis B and hepatitis C infections. Without treatment, the inflammation can progress, severely damaging your kidneys.



Cryoglobulinemia is an uncommon disease caused by an abnormal cluster of a kind of protein that blocks small blood vessels. It is most common in those with chronic hepatitis B and hepatitis C infections and can lead to circulation problems.


Hepatic Encephalopathy

Severe loss of liver function, such as liver failure, can cause your brain to become inflamed, what is known as encephalopathy. This causes mental problems, like confusion, and can lead to a coma. Advanced hepatic encephalopathy is a serious condition and is usually fatal.


Portal Hypertension

One of the liver's important jobs is to filter blood. However, cirrhosis and other problems can interfere with the liver's portal circulation system. When this portal system is blocked, blood can't return to the liver from the digestive system and pressure increases, called portal hypertension. This is a serious complication and can be fatal.



Porphyria is a group of diseases caused by problems processing important chemicals in the body called porphyrins. One type, called porphyria cutanea tara, leads to blistering of the hands and face and is a rare complication of chronic hepatitis C infection.


Viral Co-Infection

Another challenging complication of hepatitis is the possibility of having two viral infections at the same time. Hepatitis doesn't cause the second infection, but hepatitis does make it more difficult for your immune system to successfully attack other viruses. Human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) is a common virus people those with hepatitis become co-infected with. Because of this, if you have hepatitis, you should always take precautions against HIV infection. Other common co-infections are with the hepatotropic viruses, named A through E.

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