Is There a Connection between Hepatitis C & Thyroid Problems?
What Does the Research Show?
The research seems to consistently indicate that people with hepatitis C experience thyroid issues and that there are positive test results, yet there is still little known about why these two medical concerns are connected. Some research simply indicates that yes, there is a prevalence. Other research questions whether hepatitis C causes dormant thyroid issues to flare up. Others also think that maybe thyroid issues lead doctors to test for hepatitis C. Since many with the virus do not know they have it, it may mean that the records only look like there is a connection but that the only connection is that those with thyroid issues are more likely to be tested for hepatitis C than those without thyroid problems.
What Is anecdotal evidence?
Anecdotal evidence is information that is not directly connected to proven test results or proven medical research, but that is knowledge gathered and shared amongst professionals based upon their experiences and interactions with patients over a prolonged period of time or due to a significant experience with a specific medical condition. Sometimes this information is never proven and thus just becomes information shared without a known cause. Other times, anecdotal evidence leads to further testing and research. Sometimes, research results prove information that is new to textbook literature but that has been known and discussed anecdotally for years or even decades.
What does anecdotal evidence say?
Many physicians have reported that patients with hepatitis C seem to have thyroid issues. Often, they report that those with thyroid conditions are more likely to see doctors on a regular basis, either for diagnosis or for continuing treatment of their conditions. These more consistent visits and discussions with medical professionals often lead this group of patients to be more frequently tested for hepatitis C and screened for other issues, such as skin cancers.
This is not because there is an obvious connection but because being in a doctor’s office more regularly often leads to overall discussions about health and wellness, as well as conversations about other medical concerns that the patient may have which may not have seemed significant enough to make an appointment for on their own but which are worth mentioning when the patient sees their doctor about their thyroid issues. Many see this as a benefit, both in making sure that patients with thyroid concerns regularly check in with their primary care providers regarding any other concerns or complaints they may have and as a reason why all people should visit their physician on a regular basis to discuss minor problems which may actually indicate a more significant medical problem that can be mitigated with proper reporting to a medical professional in a timely manner.
I have hepatitis C, will I have thyroid problems?
There is no guarantee of this. Currently, many with hepatitis C report thyroid worries, which lead them to be tested. If you are experiencing fatigue, weight gain or loss, sensitivity to heat or cold, a loss of voice, or muscle or eye weakness, you can contact your physician or local clinic and discuss your concerns. You may be given a blood or urine test to help your doctor to determine whether you have a thyroid issue and, if so, which condition your body is experiencing. By reporting this right away, it can help your doctor to recognize and correct any existing thyroid issues.
Some patients undergoing hepatitis C treatment may experience some of the same symptoms due to the side effects of their treatment medication. It can cause a patient to worry or to assume that there is a thyroid issue. You can discuss this with your doctor, who will run any necessary tests and work with you to figure out the cause of your symptoms. If the medication regimen is the cause, your doctor may change the type of drug, alter the dosage, or provide you with an additional medication to lessen the side effects that you are experiencing. Regardless, never stop or change your medication without discussing your concerns with your doctor first.
I have thyroid problems, will I get hepatitis C?
Not at all! Hepatitis C is a virus that is transmitted through the blood. If you think you might have been exposed to hepatitis C by coming into contact with infected blood, you can contact your local clinic or hospital to find out about free testing sites. If you have not been exposed or if you have tested negative to exposure, using Universal Precautions will help to keep you safe from interactions that could lead to a hepatitis C infection. If you need to discuss specifics or ask questions about prevention, you can talk with your doctor or local clinic via phone or in person.1-4
Have you been diagnosed with cirrhosis?