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Hepatitis C Symptoms

Most common hepatitis C symptoms

  • No symptoms
  • Everything feels normal

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Hepatitis C is a liver infection that is symptomless 80% of the time. When it does present symptoms, they can mimic the flu. About 3.2 million people in the US have Hepatitis C and 3 out of 4 who are infected don’t even know they have it.

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Less common hepatitis C symptoms

  • Flu-like symptoms
  • Stomach pain
  • Jaundice (yellowing of the skin or eyes)
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Clay-colored bowel movements
  • Dark colored urine

Is there a way to know if I have hepatitis C?

It is possible to have hepatitis C and not know it. Approximately 80 percent of individuals with hepatitis C infections do not experience any symptoms. According to the CDC, an estimated 3.2 million people in the United States have chronic (long-term) hepatitis C infections. Getting tested for hepatitis C and other STDs is often the only way to know if you are infected. Many people living unknowingly with hepatitis C only find out when they are getting routine bloodwork or are donating blood.

Acute hepatitis C symptoms often feel like the flu

People with acute hepatitis C infections may experience flu-like symptoms within 2 weeks to 6 months after the initial infection. Symptoms of acute hepatitis C include:

  • Fatigue
  • Loss of appetite
  • Nausea, vomiting
  • Stomach ache
  • Itchiness
  • Fever
  • Joint and muscle pain
  • Darkening of urine
  • Jaundice (yellowing of skin and eyes)
  • Clay-colored bowel movements

Chronic hepatitis C

Being diagnosed with a chronic or long-term hepatitis C infection typically means you have had hepatitis C for longer than six months. Most people with chronic hepatitis C are able to live symptom-free for up to 20 or 30 years. According to the CDC, over time 75-85 individuals out of 100 will develop a chronic infection. Out of the same 100, 60-70 individuals with hepatitis C will develop chronic liver disease; 5-20 will develop cirrhosis over a 20-30 span; and 1-5 will die from the consequences of a chronic infection like cirrhosis or liver cancer.

  1. Razavi, Homie, Antoine C. Elkhoury, Elamin Elbasha, Chris Estes, Ken Pasini, Thierry Poynard, and Ritesh Kumar. "Chronic Hepatitis C Virus (HCV) Disease Burden and Cost in the United States." Hepatology (Baltimore, Md.). https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3763475/
  2. Kintner, Jennifer, Dawn Lajoie, Jennifer Hall, Judy Whittimore, and Robert V. Schoborg. "Commonly Prescribed β-lactam Antibiotics Induce C. Trachomatis Persistence/stress in Culture at Physiologically Relevant Concentrations." Frontiers in Cellular and Infection Microbiology. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3990100/
  3. "Hepatitis C Questions and Answers for Health Professionals | CDC." Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. https://www.cdc.gov/hepatitis/hcv/hcvfaq.htm
  4. "Hepatitis C Information Center" Hepc.liverfoundation.org. http://hepc.liverfoundation.org/

Medically Reviewed by on Jun 18, 2019

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