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No matter what the cause, hepatitis often refers to inflammation of the liver. Since the liver is such an important organ, its inflammation can lead to some serious complications. Some complications of hepatitis include cirrhosis, liver failure, and liver cancer. Other conditions, such as portal hypertension, hepatic encephalopathy, and jaundice, may also result. While some complications may differ with the type of hepatitis a person has, others are common to several forms of the disease.
Many forms of hepatitis may result in liver failure, a condition in which the liver can no longer function. Liver failure may be one of the most serious complications of hepatitis because of the important job the liver does to maintain a person’s life and health. In addition to other functions, the liver helps in metabolism, filters out toxins, and processes waste. Should the liver be unable to function, a person may not live very long. Liver failure can be a complication of many forms of hepatitis.
Cirrhosis is a condition in which damaged liver cells are replaced by scar tissue instead of healthy liver cells. This scar tissue cannot perform the same tasks as liver cells, and so liver function can become impaired. Eventually, the liver may fail. Unfortunately, this hepatitis complication may not often be reversed once it has taken place. Symptoms of cirrhosis include feeling tired, losing weight, and having no appetite.
In addition to being one of the complications of hepatitis, cirrhosis can also lead to liver cancer. Liver cancer can occur when cells in the liver divide uncontrollably, resulting in tumors. Some symptoms of liver cancer can include weight loss, pain, and an existing liver condition becoming worse. Both liver cancer and cirrhosis can be complications of hepatitis B and C. Cirrhosis can also be a complication of alcoholic hepatitis.
Other complications of hepatitis may include portal hypertension, jaundice, and hepatic encephalopathy. Hepatic encephalopathy occurs when the liver cannot filter out toxins, which then build up and affect the brain. Symptoms of this condition may include feelings of confusion, mood swings, and forgetfulness. Portal hypertension can occur when blood flowing through the portal vein has trouble getting past scar tissue in the liver, resulting in higher blood pressure in the area. Jaundice, a condition in which the whites of the eyes can turn yellow, may also be one of the complications of hepatitis.