How does hepatitis C affect the body?
Hepatitis C develops in the liver and causes inflammation. Family physician Sharecare Advisory Board member Daniel Spogen, MD, describes how the inflammation from hepatitis C causes scarring and causes the liver to lose function.
The liver likes to heal itself. So it tries to repair itself. But if there's too much damage then it
starts to scar over, that scarring we call cirrhosis. [MUSIC PLAYING]
Hepatitis C basically has a desire to get into the liver. So that's its main entry point.
It goes into the liver, starts developing in the liver cells. Gradually, it causes inflammation in the liver.
By inflammation, there are immune reactions that occur at the liver areas. And so the liver gradually gets more and more inflamed.
It's very user friendly for the liver. What I mean by that is it gets in there and the liver doesn't think it's having any particular problem.
So it can just hang out. And it's very slow. So it's every day, you don't notice much change. But over time, you do.
But it's an inflammatory disease that gradually causes more and more inflammation. The liver likes to heal itself.
So it tries to repair itself. But if there's too much damage and it starts to scar over,
that scarring we call cirrhosis. If there's enough scarring, then the liver starts to lose function.
The liver can regenerate itself if left alone. But if there's a lot of inflammation, it will eventually scar.
And then the liver can't regenerate itself at that time. As the scarring progresses, then you get a lot of obstructive symptoms.
And so the bile can't flow like it's supposed to. And patients will get an enlarged liver.
And they'll get pain in their liver, and then eventually get jaundice. [AUDIO LOGO]
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