If you think you may be at risk of hepatitis C, see your family doctor or a general practitioner. Once you've been diagnosed with a hepatitis C infection, your doctor may refer you to a specialist in hepatology (liver diseases) or infectious diseases.
What you can do
Because appointments can be brief and because there's often a lot of ground to cover, it's a good idea to be well-prepared. To prepare, try to:
- Review your medical record. This is particularly important if you are seeing a liver specialist (hepatologist) for the first time after finding out you have hepatitis C. If you had a liver biopsy to check for damage from chronic infection and a blood test to determine which hepatitis C genotype you have, make sure you know the results so you can share them with your specialty care team.
- Be aware of any pre-appointment restrictions. At the time you make the appointment, be sure to ask if there's anything you need to do in advance, such as restrict your diet.
- Write down any symptoms you're experiencing, including any that may seem unrelated to the reason for which you scheduled the appointment.
- Make a list of all medications, vitamins or supplements you're taking.
- Consider taking a family member or friend. Sometimes it can be difficult to remember all the information provided during an appointment. Someone who accompanies you may remember something that you missed or forgot.
To make the most of your time with your doctor, take along a list of questions you want to ask. Put your most important questions at the top of your list, in case time runs out. For a hepatitis C infection, some basic questions to ask your doctor include:
- Should I be tested for other causes of liver disease, such as hepatitis B?
- Has the hepatitis C virus damaged my liver?
- Do I need treatment for a hepatitis C infection?
- What are my treatment options?
- What are the benefits of each treatment option?
- What are the potential risks of each treatment option?
- Is there one treatment you think is best for me?
- I have other medical conditions. How will these affect my hepatitis C treatment?
- Should my family be tested for hepatitis C?
- Is it possible for me to spread the hepatitis C virus to others?
- How can I protect the people around me from hepatitis C?
- Should I see a specialist? Will my insurance cover it?
- Are there brochures or other material that I can take with me? What websites do you recommend?
- What will determine whether I should plan for a follow-up visit?
- Is it safe for me to drink alcohol?
- What medications should I avoid?
Don't hesitate to ask any other questions that occur to you during your appointment.
What to expect from your doctor
Your doctor is likely to ask you some of the following questions. If you've thought about your answers beforehand, this part of the visit may go more quickly than usual, leaving you more time to address your concerns.
- Have you ever had a blood transfusion or an organ transplant? If so, when?
- Have you ever used self-injected drugs not prescribed by your doctor?
- Have you ever been diagnosed with hepatitis or jaundice?
- Does anyone in your family have hepatitis C?
- Is there a history of liver disease in your family?