Hepatitis C Symptoms

  • Symptoms

    Acute hepatitis C usually starts with flu-like symptoms Table 01. Symptoms of hepatitis C occur in three phases that, in acute cases, resolve within one month. The first phase is characterized by flu-like symptoms. Within 3 to 10 days, your urine may become dark, and your eyes and skin may turn yellow (jaundice). Jaundice fades within the two-to-four-week recovery phase that follows.

    Table 1.   Symptoms of Hepatitis C

    Anorexia or loss of appetite
    Malaise
    Nausea
    Vomiting
    Pain in joints
    Soreness in upper right part of abdomen
    Fever
    Dark urine
    Jaundice

    You may experience liver damage if hepatitis C symptoms progress and become chronic. Chronic HCV can cause cirrhosis two or three decades after the initial infection.

  • Risk Factors

    Injecting illegal drugs puts you at great risk for acquiring hepatitis C. More than 60% of new HCV infections result from high-risk drug behaviors Table 02.

    Table 2.  Risk Factors for Acquiring Hepatitis C

    Injecting illegal drugs
    Being on hemodialysis
    Having had a blood transfusion or organ transplant before July, 1992a
    Having multiple sex partners
    Having sexual contact with someone who is infected
    Having been born to a hepatitis C-infected woman
    Working in the health care industry
    Having been a recipient of clotting factors made before 1987
    Being a hemodialysis patient
    Having been vaccinated with a nondisposable needle (Eastern Europe, Africa)

    a Prior to 1992, testing for viruses in blood transfusions was inefficient.

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