Symptoms of hepatitis C

Many people with hepatitis C don't have any symptoms and are unaware they have the infection. They may develop symptoms later on as their liver becomes increasingly damaged.

Early symptoms

Only aroundone inevery three or four people will have any symptoms during the first six months of a hepatitis C infection. This stage is known as acute hepatitis C.

If symptoms do develop, they usually occura few weeks afterinfection. Symptoms may include:

  • a high temperature of 38C (100.4F) or above
  • tiredness
  • loss of appetite
  • tummy (abdominal)pains
  • feeling and being sick

Aroundone in everyfive people who experiences symptomswill also have yellowing of the eyes and skin. This is known as jaundice .

In around one ineveryfourpeople infected with hepatitis C, the immune system will kill the virus within a few months andthe person will have no further symptoms, unless they become infected again.

In the remaining cases, the virus persists inside the body for many years. This is known as chronic hepatitis.

Later symptoms

The symptoms of long-term (chronic) hepatitis C can vary widely. In some people, symptoms may be barely noticeable. In others, they can have a significant impact on their quality of life.

The symptoms can also go away for long periods of time and then return.

Some of the most commonproblems experienced by people with chronic hepatitis C include:

  • feeling tired all the time
  • joint and muscle aches and pain
  • feeling sick
  • problems with short-term memory, concentration and completing complex mental tasks such as mental arithmetic many people describe this as "brain fog"
  • mood swings
  • depression or anxiety
  • indigestion or bloating
  • itchy skin
  • abdominal pain

If left untreated, the infection can eventually causethe liverto become scarred (cirrhosis) . Signs of cirrhosis can include jaundice, vomiting blood, dark stools, and a build-up of fluid in the legs or abdomen.

They may recommend having a blood test that can check for hepatitis C.

This particularly includes people who inject drugs or have done so in the past.

Read about the causes of hepatitis C for more information about who's at risk of having the infection.

Content supplied by the NHS Website

Medically Reviewed by a doctor on 29 Nov 2016