Symptoms of hepatitis C
Learn about the symptoms of hepatitis C, what to look for and what to do if you become ill.
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What are the symptoms of hepatitis C?
You may have hepatitis C and not have any signs or symptoms.
For those who do have symptoms, you may experience:
- joint pain
- dark urine
- pale feces
- stomach pain
- loss of appetite
- nausea and vomiting
- jaundice (yellowing of the skin and eyes)
Hepatitis C can lead to liver damage, as it causes swelling (inflammation). This swelling causes scarring (fibrosis) of the liver, which affects how the organ functions.
Liver scarring can worsen (called cirrhosis). This increases your chances of getting liver cancer.
How quickly your liver undergoes damage will depend on if you:
- use alcohol
- get hepatitis C after the age of 40
- have a human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) co-infection (infection with both HIV and hepatitis C)
About 60% to 70% of people with hepatitis C do not develop symptoms until their liver has already been damaged.
What do you do if you become ill?
Talk to your health care provider about getting tested if you think you:
- are at risk
- may have hepatitis C
If you have hepatitis C, tell those who may have been exposed to your blood or bodily fluids. They should get tested and be treated if necessary. Bodily fluids, like semen and vaginal fluid, are a concern because they could be carrying small amounts of infected blood.
Some adults with hepatitis C (15% to 25%) will recover from the disease on their own within 6 months. Until your health care provider confirms your recovery status, you are still contagious and can spread the disease.
After recovery, you are no longer contagious because you will not have the disease anymore. But you can get hepatitis C again.
Unfortunately, most adults with hepatitis C:
- cannot recover on their own
- develop a more serious form of the disease if they are sick for longer than 6 months
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