What Happens in Stage 4 of Hepatitis C?

Stage 4, also known as the end stage, of hepatitis C means that the liver has been severely damaged and the patient is suffering from liver failure, according to Mayo Clinic. Those diagnosed with end-stage hepatitis C or cirrhosis typically need a liver transplant in order to survive.

Symptoms of cirrhosis caused by hepatitis C include easy bleeding or bruising, yellowing of the eyes and skin, intense itching and nausea, states Mayo Clinic. Some patients may experience a loss of appetite, swelling in the abdomen or legs caused by fluid buildup, difficulty concentrating or problems with memory.

Once the liver has lost all or most of its function, patients typically suffer from bleeding in the gastrointestinal tract and a buildup of toxins in the bloodstream that causes brain and nervous system damage, reports Mayo Clinic. In some patients, cirrhosis causes liver cancer.

There are a variety of medications that are prescribed to those who suffer from hepatitis C; however, the side effects may difficult to handle. Drugs such as simeprevir or sofosbuvir are combined with interferon and ribavirin to cure patients in a timely manner, with few side effects, notes WebMD. Patients that are able to treat hepatitis C quickly can stop the growth and potentially avoid end-stage hepatitis C or cirrhosis.