Common Complications of Hepatitis

Hepatitis can progress to or be complicated by other diseases. Some of these diseases, like fibrosis (liver tissue that becomes damaged and scarred) and cirrhosis (a late stage of fibrosis), are very common. Fortunately, some of these complications, like liver failure, can also be prevented. If you have hepatitis, here are 10 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. 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 cholangiocarcinoma. Hepatocellular carcinoma affects the liver cells, while cholangiocarcinoma 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, your body will shut down, which is eventually fatal.

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 may be 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. It can lead to circulation problems.


Hepatic Encephalopathy

Severe loss of liver function, such as liver failure, can create a buildup of toxins in the blood that interfere with brain function. This condition, known as encephalopathy, causes mental problems, like confusion, and can lead to a coma. While it is reversible in early stages, 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, all the blood from the digestive system can't return to the liver, and pressure increases, creating a condition 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 tarda, leads to blistering of the hands and face and is a rare complication of chronic hepatitis C infection.


Viral Coinfection

Another challenging complication of viral 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 coinfection for people with hepatitis. Because of this, if you have hepatitis, you should always take precautions against HIV infection. Co-infections with other hepatitis viruses are also common. Hepatitis A and B can be prevented with vaccination.

8 Sources
Verywell Health uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
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By Charles Daniel
 Charles Daniel, MPH, CHES is an infectious disease epidemiologist, specializing in hepatitis.