Infection with hepatitis C may cause symptoms right away, not for years, or sometimes not at all. Eighty percent of persons have no signs or symptoms and don't know they have hepatitis C infection.
With the acute form of the disease, symptoms such as fatigue, nausea, jaundice (yellowish eyes or skin), and dark urine typically show up within six months. About one-fourth of patients with acute hepatitis C recover completely with treatment, the other estimated 75 percent of these patients will progress eventually to the long-term, or chronic, form of the disease, with detectable HCV in their blood.
Chronic hepatitis C varies widely in its severity and outcome. It can lie dormant for 10 years or more before symptoms appear. Some patients will have no symptoms of liver damage, and their liver enzymes will stay at normal levels (elevated enzymes are one indication of liver disease).
Other patients, however, will have severe hepatitis C, with detectable HCV in their blood, liver enzymes elevated as much as 20 times more than normal, and a prognosis of ultimately developing cirrhosis and end-stage liver disease.
Patients with no symptoms sometimes learn they have the disease when a routine physical or blood donation shows elevated levels of liver enzymes, which can indicate hepatitis C, as well as other liver disorders.
Symptoms That Should Prompt Medical Attention
- Jaundice (yellowish eyes or skin).
- Fatigue, or an extreme feeling of being tired all the time.
- Pain or tenderness in the right upper quadrant of the body.
- Persistent nausea or pains in the stomach.
- Lingering fever.
- Loss of appetite.
- Dark yellow urine or light-colored stools.
Other Symptoms Often Reported by Persons with Hepatitis C
- Flu-like illness.
- Indigestion - gastrointestinal reflux disorder.
- Irritable Bowel syndrome.
- Muscle and joint pain.
- Night sweats.
- Depression, mood swings, anxiety.
- Headaches and migraines.
- Memory loss, mental confusion, "brain fog".
- Itchy skin and skin problems.
- Dizziness and peripheral vision problems.
- Frequent urination
Symptoms of hepatitis C have been confused with those of Chronic Fatigue Syndrome and Fibromyalgia. Recent studies show that hepatitis C can have a serious effect on the quality of life of those infected, severely affecting a person's ability to earn a living and to work full time.
Only about 10 to 15 percent of those infected with the hepatitis C virus will progress to advanced liver disease.
Symptoms of Cirrhosis or End-Stage Liver Disease
- Swelling of the feet and ankles (edema) and abdomen (ascites).
- Progressive fatigue.
- Dark colored urine.
- Abdominal swelling (enlarged liver or spleen).
- Light colored or fatty stools.
- Pain in the right shoulder/neck area.
- Fainting or blackouts.
- Loss of cognitive function, disorientation and confusion.
- Loss of appetite.
- Bruising easily.
All information provided in this site is offered for educational purposes only, and it is not intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. Always consult your own physician or healthcare provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.