Quality of life refers to the extent to which a person is able to function physically and socially, in terms of the patient’s mental and emotional health; energy levels; and pain levels. It is important to note that patients who perceive themselves to be unwell show a greater tendency to experience a reduced quality of life.1
Regardless of the amount of liver inflammation, patients infected with hepatitis C can experience non-specific symptoms such as low energy, fatigue and body pain, as well as emotional issues such as depression, anxiety, mood swings, aggression, memory problems and concentration problems (often referred to as “brain fog”). These symptoms contribute to a reduction in quality of life.1
Research also shows that the greater the severity of the disease, the greater the impact on a person’s quality of life.1 However, the degree of symptoms does not always indicate the severity of the disease. It is possible for a patient with minor liver damage to experience severe symptoms and for a patient with a more severe form of the disease to experience mild symptoms.
Quality of life increases after successful treatment.
Figure 2-4: Evolution of Health-Related Quality of Life
1. Foster GR, Goldin RD, Thomas HC. Chronic hepatitis C virus infection causes a significant reduction in quality of life in the absence of cirrhosis. Hepatology 1998;27(1):209-12.