Disease progression

How does Hep C progress to damage the liver?

Hepatitis C progresses very slowly and has four stages although not everyone will progress to the later stages listed below:  

What do these stages mean?

When the virus first enters the body, you are referred to as having an 'Acute Hepatitis C infection'. There is a 1 in 5 chance your body will get rid of the virus by itself during this early stage of infection.

However, if you still have Hepatitis C after 6 months, you have then progressed to a 'Chronic Hepatitis C infection' which will be long term.

Over time, the virus attacks the liver cells causing swelling which can lead to the appearance of scar tissue that is called Fibrosis. Scar tissue gradually builds up, becoming permanent, and the liver becomes harder in texture. This hardening is referred to as Cirrhosis. There is an increased risk of liver cancer in those who have developed cirrhosis

Hardening of the liver affects its ability to function. The liver is an amazing organ, and can repair or compensate for a lot of damage. However, once it can no longer carry out its functions, the liver is said to be Decompensated

See also

Hepatitis C Trust: Progression and Stages of Hepatitis C

Hepatitis C Scotland


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