What is Hepatitis C?

Understanding Your Liver

Your LiverIn order to understand your Hepatitis C infection, it helps to have a basic understanding of how your liver works.  You only have one liver and it’s one of the largest and most important organs in your body.  Your liver is located behind the lower right part of your ribs, which help protect it. Your liver does the following important jobs to keep you healthy:

  • It acts like a filter to clean your blood by breaking down things such as alcohol, drugs (prescription, over-the counter and street drugs) and other harmful chemicals, and removes wastes.
  • It stores nutrients that you need – such as vitamins, fat and sugar from food – as well as other chemicals, and releases them into your bloodstream when your body needs them.
  • It produces some very important chemicals, like the ones needed to make your blood clot and heal after an injury, as well as a greenish fluid called bile that helps with the digestion of fats.

So what does all this have to do with Hepatitis C?  Hepatitis means inflammation, or swelling, of the liver.  When the liver is inflamed, it has a harder time doing its job.  Hepatitis C is just one thing that can cause inflammation of the liver.  Other things that can cause this include alcohol, some medications, and certain diseases.