Hepatitis C and Type 2 Diabetes
Last updated: August 2020
Hepatitis C not only affects the liver but can interfere and affect other parts of the body. A common extrahepatic condition associated with hepatitis C is type 2 diabetes.
The liver oversees a variety of vital body functions, including:
- Producing bile, which helps digestion
- Producing bilirubin, cholesterol, and hormones
- Metabolizing fats, proteins, and carbohydrates
- Activating enzymes
- Storing vitamins & minerals and glycogen (which allows the body to store necessary energy and nutrients)
- Synthesizing plasma proteins (like clotting factors and albumin)
- Detoxifying and purifying the blood; Eliminating toxins from the blood
Hepatitis C and pre-diabetes/type 2 diabetes
Chronic hepatitis C leads to liver damage, which can interfere with liver function which can affect other organ function like the pancreas, that deals with insulin. Insulin resistance means the cells in your body are not able to absorb blood sugar or glucose properly. Glucose is a vital source of energy used by every part of the body. Insulin helps get glucose into the cells. The liver helps convert the glucose from the blood into glycogen which is stored for energy. If liver function is impaired with hepatitis C, it interferes with proper glucose conversion.
Insulin resistance can occur if too much glucose in the blood reduces the ability of the body’s cells to use sugar in the blood into energy. This can lead to prediabetes and cause type 2 diabetes. Prediabetes and type 2 diabetes put the patient at risk for increased liver damage from hepatitis C leading to cirrhosis and higher risk for liver cancer. It reduces the body’s ability to fight infection, including hepatitis C. It also deters normal blood production and getting the right amount of blood and energy to other parts of the body. This interferes with other body functions, resulting in higher risk for heart disease, fatty liver disease, and neuropathy. Approximately 30% of people with hepatitis C have prediabetes or type 2 diabetes.
Diabetes and hepatitis C treatment
Patients who have cirrhosis (severe scarring) of the liver have an increased risk of problems with blood sugar and diabetes and need to be closely monitored. There are a variety of hepatitis C treatment options available for patients who have extrahepatic conditions like diabetes.
If you have been diagnosed with hepatitis C and prediabetes or type 2 diabetes, talk to your physician about which hepatitis C treatment is best suited for your condition. Make sure to closely monitor your blood sugar during hepatitis C treatment to ensure your diabetes medication is regulated properly.