Hepatitis C

Hepatitis C often leads to serious liver complications that can impact your quality life. At the Henry Ford Liver Disease Center, our specialists are leaders in viral hepatitis research, offering both cures and comprehensive care for hepatitis C and all of its related conditions.

Learn more about antiviral drugs and research and clinical trials at Henry Ford.

What is Hepatitis C?

Hepatitis C (formerly called non-A, non-B hepatitis) is an infection caused by the hepatitis C virus which can damage the liver, over many years leading to life-threatening liver failure or liver cancer.

Hepatitis C causes and risk factors

Hepatitis C is spread mainly through contact with infected blood either through transfusions before 1992 or through injection drug use. Many adults that were transfused in the 1970’s and 1980’s as children are not aware of their risk. Other risk factors include:

  • Baby boomers (people born from 1945 – 1965) are at high risk of hepatitis C infection. More than 75 percent of adults infected with hepatitis C are in their 50s and 60s.
  • A mother can spread hepatitis C to her baby when she gives birth, but this is rare.
  • You may contract the virus through sexual contact.

Four out of five hepatitis C cases will become chronic. Chronic hepatitis C stays in the body for many years, leading to more serious liver diseases, like cirrhosis (permanent liver scarring) or liver cancer.

Hepatitis C symptoms

In most people, hepatitis C usually causes mild to no symptoms. If you do get sick, symptoms may include:

  • Fever
  • Achiness or malaise (vague sense of physical discomfort)
  • Loss of appetite
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Jaundice (yellowing of the skin and eyes)
  • Pain just below the ribs on the right side, especially when pressure is applied
  • Dark urine
  • Pale bowel movements

How is Hepatitis C diagnosed?

Your hepatologist (liver specialist) can screen you for hepatitis C with a blood test. Additional blood tests can help your doctor determine which treatment is best for you by determining which hepatitis C genotype, or strain, you are infected with.

FibroScan at Henry Ford

At Henry Ford, we are one of just a few centers in Michigan with FibroScan, a new, noninvasive alternative to liver biopsy. FibroScan uses sound waves to determine the stiffness of the liver, which shows how much liver damage, or fibrosis, you’ve sustained.

Studies have shown that FibroScan is more accurate in predicting liver function than traditional biopsy.

Learn more about FibroScan and liver disease diagnosis at Henry Ford.

Hepatitis C treatment at Henry Ford Hospital

Our multidisciplinary team includes experts who focus on the treatment of viral hepatitis, including three hepatitis nurses who care for our patients with hepatitis B and C.

At Henry Ford, we’re constantly offering novel treatments and cures for viral hepatitis before they’re available to the general public. These can include:

  • New antiviral drugs: We’ve offered several revolutionary hepatitis C cures years before they were available for use among the general public.
  • Extensive research and clinical trials: We now offer several remarkable drugs in pill form that cure hepatitis C.
  • Liver transplant: Hepatitis C is the No. 1 reason for liver transplant. Our experienced team performed the first living donor liver transplant in Michigan, and since, we’ve remained one of the most active liver transplantation centers in the Midwest. We have particular expertise in the post-transplant management of hepatitis C patients.
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