Signs and Symptoms of Hepatitis C

Staff WriterLast Updated Oct 30, 2020 10:30:23 AM ET

Hepatitis C, a virus that attacks the liver, is a tricky disease. Some people have it and may never know it as they are affected by any sorts of symptoms. It can remain silent until there is severe damage to your liver.

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What Are the Symptoms of Hepatitis C?

If you were to have symptoms of hepatitis C, what would they look like? Acute hepatitis C is the phase when you are first exposed to the disease. If you have symptoms at all, here are some to look out for, as listed by the Mayo Clinic. These include bruising easily, fatigue, bleeding easily, itchy skin, jaundice or yellowing of the skin, dark-colored urine, confusion and swelling in your legs. Symptoms usually show up between two and 12 weeks after being exposed to the virus and last two weeks to three months, according to the Mayo Clinic.

Who Is at Risk to Get Hepatitis C?

Hepatitis C is a virus transmitted through the blood from one person to another. Here are some situations that put you at an increased risk of getting the disease as cited by the Mayo Clinic. These include if you have HIV, inject or inhale drugs, are a health care worker who may be exposed to contaminated blood, have been in prison, received a tattoo or piercing from a questionable environment or were born to a woman with hepatitis C. Also, those born between the years of 1945 and 1965 have cause for concern as they are five times more likely to be infected with hepatitis C than people born outside of this time frame.

Hepatitis C Treatment

Hepatitis C is the leading cause of liver cancer and liver transplants, according to WebMD. It is curable. However, there is no easy fix that works for each person. There are different strands of hepatitis C and, thus, no one pill can treat them all. You and your doctor will have to work together to figure out which antiviral medications are going to work in your particular situation. Most medications can remove all traces of the virus in your blood in about 12 weeks.

Preventing Hepatitis C

The best and easiest way to prevent getting hepatitis C is to ensure you are making good decisions. Practice safe sex — use a condom. If you use illicit drugs, which you should seek treatment for a litany of reasons, never share needles with other users. Make sure to check the hygienic conditions of a place before you decide to get piercings or a tattoo.

Complications From Hepatitis C

Hepatitis C can lead to liver cancer. It can also cause cirrhosis of the liver, which creates mass scarring and makes it difficult for the liver to work as it should. This can then lead to complete liver failure and the need for a transplant to stay alive.