Hepatitis C is an infection of the liver caused by Hepacivirus C (or HCV, the hepatitis C virus). The World Health Organization estimates that about 71 million people worldwide suffer from it. But the tricky part about it is that it rarely shows any symptoms, which leaves many cases undiagnosed.
What are the symptoms of hepatitis C?
As we’ve mentioned, hepatitis rarely manifests itself with noticeable symptoms, but when it does, the following might appear…
One of the first symptoms of hepatitis C, jaundice is the condition where the sclera (the white outer layer of your eyes) and the skin start to have a yellowish pallor. This skin discoloration is caused by a buildup of a yellowish substance called bilirubin. This buildup happens if the liver doesn’t function properly.
Aside from having yellowish eyes and skin, the following can also change color…
2. Dark Urine
Dark urine is another telltale sign of hep C. With this condition, the kidneys cannot properly process nutrients and fluids, leading to a darker color of urine.
The urine won’t be the only thing that’s strangely colored, as our next symptom clearly shows…
3. Clay-Colored Stool
The normal brown color of your stool is caused by the bile salts released by the liver. With an infected liver, less bile salts are produced. As a result, the stool will come out looking a bit pale or clay-colored.
As the liver fails to function well, the effects slowly start to take its toll on the rest of your body…
Studies have attributed hep C’s frequent spells of fatigue to the fact that the body exhausts itself fighting against the virus. However, Dr. Nancy Reau, a member of the American Liver Foundation, claims that fatigue is a common problem and can’t always be directly linked to the virus.
Regardless of its origin, fatigue can exacerbate hep C problems, and sometimes it can lead to…
Fever is one of the more common symptoms of having hepatitis C. Like fatigue, fever is an effect of the body’s immune system trying to kill the virus. Specifically, the body raises its own temperature in an attempt to kill the virus with heat.
Our next symptom accompanies almost all kinds of infections, and hepatitis C is no exception…
6. Loss of Appetite
Appetite loss, although a common hepatitis C symptom, baffles medical experts as to how it is triggered by the virus. Some researchers have attributed it to taste perturbations, or changes in taste. Further research is needed to fully determine why hepatitis causes this change in taste, though.
Like loss of appetite, expect that this upcoming symptom will appear as well..
Being nauseous is likewise a common side effect of many viral infections, and hepatitis is no exception. But it can also be because of treatment or medication, as some drugs like ribavirin are known to cause such effects. So, nausea alone cannot defintitively indicate a hep C infection. When paired with other hep C symptoms, though, it could be a cause for concern.
Oftentimes, nausea can lead to the following…
Nauseousness almost always leads to vomiting. In advanced cases of hepatitis C, occurrences of vomiting blood have been reported due to esophageal varices, or bleeding in the lower esophagus. Patients vomiting blood should seek emergency medical attention right away.
Unfortunately, stomach problems aren’t the only abdominal woes caused by hep C…
9. Abdominal Pain
A patient suffering from hepatitis C may experience bouts of a sharp, stabbing pain in the abdomen. Specifically, it may occur on the right side just below the ribs, right where the liver is located. Based on what patients usually experience, the pain does not last very long.
Hep C also makes us susceptible to our last symptom…
Ascites is the abnormal buildup of fluid in the abdomen. Due to its effects to the liver, people who have or have had hepatitis C are considered susceptible to this condition. Patients may suffer an increase in abdominal size, weight gain, shortness of breath, and abdominal pain when suffering from ascites.
Is hepatitis C curable?
Hepatitis C, even with its many forms and symptoms, is relatively curable. You are considered clear for the virus if your blood tests negative 3 months after receiving treatment.