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 2.7 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.
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:
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.