COVID-19 and Chronic Liver Disease

Medically Reviewed by Dan Brennan, MD on December 24, 2022
2 min read

More than 4 in 5 people who have symptoms of COVID-19, the illness caused by the coronavirus, get only mildly sick. But if you have ongoing health issues, including liver disease, the virus may be more likely to leave you seriously ill.

According to the CDC, some patients hospitalized for COVID-19 have had increased levels of liver enzymes — such as alanine aminotransferase (ALT) and aspartate aminotransferase (AST). This means a person’s liver is at least temporarily damaged during their illness. 

Inaddition, studies indicate that people with preexisting liver disease (chronic liver disease, cirrhosis, or related complications) who were diagnosed with COVID-19 are at higher risk of death than people without preexisting liver disease.

COVID-19 is still a new illness, but there are now vaccines available and everyone eligible is being encouraged to get them. 

Most people with COVID-19 symptoms get better on their own. And a sizeable number of people who catch COVID-19 show no signs. But a small portion of people do fall severely ill or die. They may get severe lung problems, such as pneumonia and ARDS (acute respiratory distress syndrome). Pneumonia can swell your airways and fill your lungs with fluid. That can lead to ARDS, which makes it hard or impossible for you to breathe. Some people may need a ventilator.

Things that may raise your chances of severe COVID-19 include if you:

You can take these steps to help you avoid COVID-19.

First, stay home as much as possible. Also, get vaccinated. If you have a higher risk for illness, you might:

  • Ask your doctor if you should keep your medical appointments or postpone them. It might be possible to have your visit by phone or on the internet.
  • Have groceries and essential supplies delivered.
  • Stock up on your prescriptions or get them via mail order.

You should also:

  • Avoid close contact with others, especially those who may be sick.
  • Keep at least 6 feet, or two arms’ lengths, between yourself and others. That isn’t always possible, so wear a high-quality face mask, too.
  • Clean and disinfect surfaces you touch often, such as phones, TV remotes, countertops, faucets, and light switches.

If you think you might have symptoms of COVID-19, like a fever or dry cough, call your doctor.