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Choosing A Doctor for Hepatitis C

Thanks to the many new drugs that can be used to treat hepatitis C, a bigger range of doctors can handle your care. When treatment was more complicated, people with hepatitis C generally had to see a gastroenterologist. Today, even primary care doctors can help you fight the virus. So, what type of doctor should you choose?

What type of doctor treats hepatitis C?

The type of specialist you see may depend on several things. This includes what your insurance company recommends and what type of specialists are available in the area where you live. Here are some of the doctors who commonly treat hepatitis C.

  • Gastroenterologist: A doctor who treats diseases of the digestive system, which includes the liver
  • Hepatologist: Gastroenterologists who focus on liver disease
  • Infectious disease doctor or immunologist: Specialists who treat infections and conditions of the immune system
  • Primary care doctor: Usually the doctor who first spots your infection

Other health care specialists who may be part of your treatment team include a physician assistant, nurse practitioner, dermatologist, pharmacist, dietitian, and therapist.

You may need to see a specialist for some parts of your treatment while your primary care doctor takes care of routine tests and watches your overall health along the way. If this happens, your specialist and primary care doctor should be in touch regularly to share any information that’s needed to help you fight the virus health.

Other factors that may impact which type of doctor you see include:

  • How much liver damage you already have, if any
  • Whether you have other infections too, such as hepatitis A, hepatitis B, or HIV
  • How long you have been infected with hep C

If tests show that you have liver damage, you will likely need to see a gastroenterologist or hepatologist. If you have what are called “co-infections“, you will most likely need to see an infectious disease specialist or an immunologist.

Several skin conditions are common during hepatitis C treatment so you may need to see a dermatologist, a doctor who specializes in caring for the skin. If you are overweight, your doctor may send you to a dietitian to help you lose weight since people with hepatitis C are more likely to have a condition called fatty liver disease.

How to choose a doctor

Once you know what type of doctor you need to see, you have a choice to make. Some questions to consider before choosing your doctor are:

  • Does the doctor often treat other people with hepatitis C?
  • Is this doctor experienced in treating hepatitis C?
  • How experienced is the doctor in contesting insurance claims that get denied?
  • Will this doctor treat just your hepatitis C, or can they also treat your other health care needs?
  • If you need to see multiple specialists, do they already know one another and share other patients?
  • Is their office convenient for you to visit?
  • Is this doctor covered by my insurance plan?
  • Do you like and trust this doctor?

How to make the most of doctor’s appointments

While there are many new, more effective treatments available to treat hepatitis C, it is still a complicated disease to treat. That means you will need to keep you doctor informed about any problems you are having during treatment.

To get the most out of each doctor’s appointment, use these tips:

  • Before each appointment, think about whether you have any questions, concerns or health changes to talk about with your doctor.
  • Write your questions and concerns on paper or type or record a note into your phone so you do not forget.
  • Remember to bring any new paperwork, test results from other doctors, and a full list of your current medicines and supplements.
  • Bring something to write down or record what your doctor tells you so you do not forget.

It’s easy to forget new symptoms that may have happened days or weeks ago. Writing down or recording anything that worries you will help you remember it later when you see your doctor.

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