If you think you were exposed to hepatitis C, you’ll need to get tested. The first test will consist of checking if your body has been exposed to the hepatitis C virus. The test will check for antibodies, which help to fight off viruses like hepatitis C.
There can also be a secondary test, which will check to see if you actually have hepatitis C in your blood.
If you test positive, you can be referred to a specialist for further testing and treatment. Most referrals will be for a gastroenterologist or for a hepatologist.
A gastroenterologist specializes in the body’s digestive system, including the liver, intestines, gallbladder, and pancreas. Hepatologists focus specifically on the gallbladder, biliary tree, liver, and pancreas.
What your individual treatment plan will be will be based on your needs – your medical history, the potential side effects, and how strictly you can follow a treatment plan.
After the initial blood testing has been completed, further testing will be done to see how much the liver has been damaged by the hepatitis C virus. If the liver has been damaged, the patient may need an additional doctor for further testing throughout the treatment process. In the case where the liver isn’t damaged, the initial gastroenterologist or hepatologist will likely be able to perform the liver tests.
Depending on the side effects you experience from your treatment plan, you may need to see other kinds of doctors to deal with those. These include dermatologists, for any skin issues, an ear/nose/throat doctor, for sore throat or dry mouth issues, or even a mental health professional, for mental health issues caused by the medication.
Most patients will also interact with pharmacists, for help getting the proper daily vitamins and other medications that won’t affect the hepatitis C treatment, and with dieticians, for help to alter their diet to a liver supportive one.
Featured image: gwolters via DepositPhotos