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Complications Associated with Hepatitis

Return to hepatitis articles

Most people diagnosed with Hepatitis B or Hepatitis C can live long full lives. Hepatitis B often remains in its acute form, meaning you get the infection and it will go away on its own. This is sometimes the case with Hepatitis C, though it normally progresses into the chronic stage. Here are some common complications associated with the HBV and HCV viruses. Fortunately, some of the most severe complications can often be avoided or managed with early diagnosis.

Hepatitis B (HBV)

Pregnancy complications
Hepatitis B:
Nearly 90% of babies whose mothers have an HBV infection will be born with it. Hepatitis B has a higher likelihood of turning into a chronic infection in young children. If a baby is infected anytime up to the age of 5, there is a 30% chance of chronic infection. In adults and older children, that chance is reduced greatly. Only about 6% will have a chronic infection and a mere 1% of all Hepatitis B infections are deadly. Fortunately, if you test positive for Hepatitis B, there are two vaccinations that can be given to the baby in the delivery room that will drastically lower the chance of infection.
Hepatitis C: The baby may be affected but it is not as likely as with Hepatitis B.

Joint pain and rashes
Hepatitis B & C:
Aching muscles, joint pain and rashes are sometimes experienced by those with Hepatitis B and C.

Jaundice
Hepatitis B & C:
Jaundice is one symptom of acute infection. There is a noticeable yellowing of the skin and whites of the eyes.

Cirrhosis of the liver
Hepatitis B:
Not everyone with chronic HBV is at the same risk of cirrhosis or scarring of the liver. According to the World Health Organization, about 25% of adults who become chronically infected during childhood will experience a fatal complication as a result of cirrhosis of the liver or liver cancer.
Hepatitis C: About 20% to 25% of chronic Hepatitis C infections are likely to develop into cirrhosis of the liver.

Liver cancer
Hepatitis B & C:
When in chronic form, Hepatitis B & C can lead to chronic liver disease and infection, putting the affected people at a higher risk of developing liver cancer.

Hepatitis D
Hepatitis B:
Hepatitis D is an infection of the HDV virus that only affects people who carry the Hepatitis B virus. Hepatitis D can make an existing liver infection or disease worse and also can make the complications associated with hepatitis more severe. Hepatitis D occurs in 5% of people with Hepatitis B.

Inflammation of the blood vessels
Hepatitis B & C:
Inflammations of the blood vessels, vasculitis, is a rare complication associated with Hepatitis B and C.

Liver failure
Hepatitis B & C:
Liver failure is one possible side effect where the liver shuts down and an immediate transplant is needed.