Alcohol-Related Liver Disease and Hepatitis C
Last updated: September 2021
When you have alcohol-related liver disease and hepatitis C at the same time, there are several possible complications. Most of them are related to your liver health. If you are one of those people who hasn't been able to stop drinking alcohol while you have hep C, this article may help you feel supported.
How alcohol affects the liver
Remember, hep C is a silent killer, and so is alcohol over a long period of time. If you are drinking heavily AND you have hepatitis C, it’s a compounded problem. Drinking causes your liver to work harder while filtering out the alcohol; It’s designed to do that. But remember, hepatitis C is causing inflammation to your liver 24/7. It’s double-trouble when your liver does not get a break.
Before I was diagnosed with hep C, I drank a glass of wine or a wine cooler sometimes with friends, or with a meal. It was a joke among my friends that I was a lightweight. After a few sips of wine, I would pass out. When my liver biopsy showed end stage, I realized how burdened my liver already was. It couldn’t filter, so I was getting hepatic encephalopathy and sleeping for hours after a few sips of wine. I felt so bad for what I had put my liver through. Of course, I have never taken another drink. I never will.
Alcohol use runs in my family
My dad was an alcoholic, so I never drank until my late 40s. Even then, it was a single glass of wine a few times a year. My mom encouraged my siblings and me to try to break the family cycle of addiction. My dad had a hard time, and died very young from a variceal bleed out. I wonder now if he had hepatitis C. After a car wreck in his 30s, he was given multiple blood transfusions (that was a common way to get hep C back then). I’ll never know for sure because he wasn’t tested. His liver failed before he turned 50.
When my dad put down the bottle
Dad quit drinking and lived almost 20 years, but he still battled with liver disease. He didn’t go to a 12 Step Program, or get any counseling. He just quit so he could liver to see his grandkids grow up. I always felt like he needed more support, and offered it in any way that I could.
Talking to your doctor
No one but you knows how much you drink. You can hide it from your family, friends, at work, and even from your doctor. Your liver knows the truth, though, especially with alcohol and hep C. It’s important to tell your medical provider that you are dealing with alcohol dependence issues. Let them know you are struggling and would like help to quit. There are good medications now that may help during your recovery from alcohol.
If you are dealing with alcohol-related liver disease and hepatitis C, it’s time to get treated. Getting rid of hep C will help bring relief to your liver. You can also work on reducing your use of alcohol to improve your health and move into a healthy future.