Extrahepatic Conditions Related to Hepatitis C
Last updated: July 2023
Extrahepatic conditions refer to conditions associated with hepatitis C which affect parts of the body outside the liver. Extrahepatic conditions are common especially if patients have had chronic active hepatitis C over a long period of time. Clinical experts estimate that 40 to 70% of patients with hepatitis C develop at least one extrahepatic condition.
Testing for hepatitis C & extrahepatic conditions and early diagnosis are key to dealing with extrahepatic conditions effectively.
Here are some common extrahepatic conditions:
Cryoglobulinemia vasculitis is inflammation of the blood vessels, which can restrict blood flow and damage vital organs and tissue. Abnormal blood proteins called cryoglobulins clump together at cold temperatures, restricting blood flow which causes damage to the skin, muscles, nerves and other organs, like the kidneys.
Renal disorders refers to poor function of the kidneys, which can be caused by a reduction of blood flow from renal artery disease. Normal kidney function regulates body fluid, blood pressure, and blood chemistry, and helps remove waste.
A variety of skin and connective tissue disorders are associated with hepatitis C. These can include spots under the skin, dry skin, itching, bumps, rashes, and other skin and connective tissue conditions.
Arthralgia/myalgia refers to muscle and joint pain and stiffness. This can occur in multiple joints at different times, but commonly affect the joints in the arms, wrists, knees, feet, pelvis, hips, and back.
Insulin resistance and type 2 diabetes
Insulin resistance can occur if excess glucose in the blood reduces the ability of the body’s cells to use sugar in the blood into energy. Prediabetes can develop, which can lead to type 2 diabetes.
Cancer of the lymph system, B-cell non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, has been associated with hepatitis C.
Autoimmune disorders are where a person’s own antibodies attack the bodies tissue and organs. For example. sicca syndrome refers to an autoimmune disease known as Sjogren's syndrome. This causes dry eyes and dry mouth. It can also be associated with other autoimmune disorders like rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, scleroderma, or polymyositis.
Cardiovascular disease (which can affect different areas of the heart) including coronary artery disease, heart attack, abnormal heart rhythms, heart failure, heart valve disease, congenital heart disease, or cardiomyopathy.
Some conditions are known to clear and disappear after treatment for hepatitis C with eliminating the virus from the body. Other conditions can remain and will need to be monitored and managed by your physician. Extrahepatic conditions left untreated and unmanaged can cause serious damage. If you have any symptoms, talk with your physician and ask to be tested for extrahepatic conditions.