Disruptions in liver function can contribute to symptoms like brain fog. It may also be a side effect of certain medications used to treat hepatitis C.

Brain fog is a term that describes an overall feeling of mental fogginess. This includes forgetfulness, difficulty concentrating, and confusion. It’s a state of generally disorganized thinking.

Some research suggests that about 50% of people with hepatitis C experience psychiatric symptoms such as brain fog.

Hepatitis C is a liver disease that develops after infection with the hepatitis C virus (HCV).

Your liver is responsible for removing harmful substances from your blood, among other duties. When it doesn’t function properly, it can affect the entire body, including your brain.

Treatment can also contribute to this symptom. This may include direct-acting antiviral (DAA) therapy with or without ribavirin.

Symptoms of brain fog are more likely to occur in people with advanced hepatitis C or in those who have developed cirrhosis. Other symptoms can also contribute to brain fog, including:


Fatigue is a common symptom of hepatitis C.

DAA therapy may also contribute to insomnia. Lack of sleep is a contributing factor to headaches, mood changes, and depression.

Another medication, ribavirin, can create sleep disturbances and is known to cause fatigue.

All of these can contribute to brain fog.


Having hepatitis C in itself may cause a certain level of anxiety. DAA therapy can also cause you to feel edgy and anxious.

Aggression or irritability

People on DAA therapy tend to anger more easily than they normally would. Ribavirin can cause irritability and general moodiness.

Sadness or depression

Sadness may be a result of having hepatitis C, and it’s a common side effect of ribavirin. It will usually subside within weeks after treatment ends.

Consult with your healthcare professional if you notice symptoms of depression. Your medication dosages may need to be adjusted, and antidepressants may need to be added to your treatment plan.

Memory, concentration, and confusion

Trouble remembering things and maintaining concentration are side effects of ribavirin. These effects may also lead to general confusion.

Physical symptoms to consider

Hepatitis C can also cause physical symptoms that contribute to brain fog, such as:

  • fever
  • loss of appetite
  • muscle aches
  • stomachaches

Hepatic encephalopathy is more than just brain fog. It’s a condition in which brain function is harmed because the liver cannot remove toxins from the blood. This allows harmful chemicals to build up in the bloodstream.

It generally occurs in people who have advanced hepatitis, cirrhosis, or another chronic liver disease.

Common symptoms include:

  • worsening brain fog
  • bad breath (halitosis)
  • difficulty with small hand movements

More severe symptoms include:

  • hand or arm shaking
  • significant personality changes
  • slurred speech

People can become sluggish, unconscious, or slip into a coma. This is a medical emergency that requires immediate hospitalization.

Side effects of medications may improve after your body adjusts. If not, dosage adjustments, medication changes, and additional therapies may help ease brain fog.

Complementary therapies like meditation, breathing exercises, and yoga may help ease some symptoms and side effects.

Consult a healthcare professional to discuss your options if your symptoms are sudden, severe, or persist after at-home treatment.