The latest research & treatment news about Hepatitis C infection, diagnosis, symptoms and treatment.

Hepatitis C

What are the Signs and Symptoms of Hepatitis C?

There are two types of Hepatitis C – acute (brief and severe) and chronic (having long duration). Individuals with acute Hepatitis C usually do not manifest symptoms and the small percentage that do (25 to 35 percent) will experience symptoms similar to the other cases of acute hepatitis, including flu-like symptoms, joint aches or mild skin rash. Individuals that are particularly likely to experience a severe course of Hepatitis C are those individuals that already have Hepatitis B and become infected with acute Hepatitis C.

Other symptoms which may be experienced by individuals with acute Hepatitis C are:

  • Loss of appetite
  • Abdominal pain
  • Dark urine
  • Grey colored stool
  • Jaundice (yellowing of the skin and whites of the eyes)

As is the case for acute Hepatitis C, most people who have chronic Hepatitis C do not experience symptoms in the early stages or even in the advanced stages of the disease. Therefore, it is not uncommon to find out, by surprise, that one has the virus when donating blood or during a routine blood examination. It is possible to have Hepatitis C for many years and not know it which is the reason why the disease has been referred to as a silent killer.

If symptoms do occur, they will most likely exhibit as:

  • Pain and tenderness in the area of the liver
  • Fever
  • Joint and muscle pain
  • Decreased appetite
  • Weight loss
  • Depression
  • Jaundice (yellowing of the skin and whites of the eyes)
  • Fatigue

In those persons who do develop symptoms, the average time period from exposure to symptom onset is 4–12 weeks (range: 2–24 weeks).

Chronic Hepatitis C may cause signs and symptoms which manifest in other organs beside the liver as the result of the immune system’s effort to fight off the Hepatitis C infection. In some cases of Hepatitis C, the kidneys can be damaged because of a condition known as cryoglobulinemia.

Cryoglobulinemia is the presence of abnormal proteins in the blood called cryoglobulins.  Cryoglobulins is a term for proteins in the blood that become solid at low temperatures. When cryoblobulins thicken or become gel-like, they block blood vessels throughout the body which may lead to complications ranging from skin rashes to kidney failure.

More symptoms information.

Mayo Clinic “Acute Liver Failure” Retrieved May 20, 2011

Medscape “Diagnosis and Management of Acute Liver Failure” Retrieved May 20, 2011

Palmer, M.D., Melissa. Dr. Melissa Palmer’s Guide to Hepatitis & Liver Disease. New York: Avery Trade, 2004.

U.S. National Library of Medicine NIH National Institutes of Health “Acute liver failure caused by 'fat burners' and dietary supplements: a case report and literature review” Retrieved May 20, 2011

U.S. National Library of Medicine NIH National Institutes of Health “Influence of high body mass index on outcome in acute liver failure” Retrieved May 20, 2011< Worman, MD Howard J. The Liver Disorders and Hepatitis Sourcebook. McGraw-Hill, 2006