What are the symptoms of Hepatitis C?
The symptoms of Hepatitis C are often silent. It is a blood-borne infection which causes inflammation of the liver. It is caused by the Hepatitis C virus, commonly known as HCV. Hepatitis C is sometimes known as the “Silent Epidemic” since many patients are asymptomatic for many years. It is a common myth that since no symptoms are experienced, then there is no harm taking place within the body. Unfortunately, over 80% of persons infected with the Hepatitis C virus will experience no symptoms for many years after they are infected. By the time they are noticeable, there may already be severe liver damage.
What are the symptoms of Hepatitis C? Fatigue is a common symptom of Hepatitis C. Fatigue is a condition characterized by a decreased capacity for work accompanied by distraction and lack of efficiency. Persons with fatigue may experience unusual levels of weariness, sleepiness, and irritability.
Symptoms of Hepatitis C may mimic common flu symptoms such as fever, chills, aching joints, headache, and a slight sore throat. Often these flu-like symptoms seem to never “quite go away” which may or may not alert the patient that something a little more serious is occurring within his or her body.
The onset of Hepatitis C may be characterized by gastrointestinal symptoms such as nausea and vomiting. The patient may have unexplained weight loss, a loss of appetite and a sudden aversion to certain foods. A person infected with HCV may experience tenderness in the abdomen, near the right side over the liver. Some patients will notice a darkening of the urine; stool specimens may be pale in color. In severe cases of acute Hepatitis C patients may exhibit jaundice. Jaundice is a yellowing of the skin and deeper tissues; it is often seen in the whites of the eyes.
Hepatitis C symptoms may wax and wane; the symptoms may vary widely from patient to patient and may vary from time to time within the same patient. The important thing to remember is that the severity of the illness may not necessarily be determined by the severity of the symptoms. If a person has any suspicion that he or she has engaged in activity which has made them susceptible or exposed them to the virus, they should immediately seek testing.
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