Hepatitis C infection usually causes no symptoms until late in the course of chronic infection. In its earliest stages, beginning about one to three months after exposure to the virus, the following signs and symptoms occur in a small proportion of infected people:
- Nausea or poor appetite
- Stomach pain
- Dark-colored urine
- Yellow discoloration in the skin and eyes (jaundice)
- Muscle and joint pains
Signs and symptoms of chronic infection typically become evident after years and are the result of liver damage caused by the virus. These may initially include the symptoms of acute infection. Then, over time, signs and symptoms may include:
- Bleeding easily
- Bruising easily
- Itchy skin
- Fluid accumulation in your abdomen (ascites)
- Swelling in your legs
- Weight loss
- Confusion, drowsiness and slurred speech (hepatic encephalopathy)
- Spider-like blood vessels on your skin (spider angiomas)
When to see a doctor
Make an appointment with your doctor if you have any of the above signs and symptoms.
Jan. 15, 2015
- Mandell GL, et al. Mandell, Douglas, and Bennett's Principles and Practice of Infectious Diseases. 8th ed. Philadelphia, Pa.: Churchill Livingstone Elsevier; 2015. https://www.clinicalkey.com/#!/content/book/3-s2.0-B9781455748013001569. Accessed Nov. 28, 2014.
- Hepatitis C FAQs for the public. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. http://www.cdc.gov/hepatitis/c/CFAQ.htm#cFAQ81. Accessed Dec. 1, 2014.
- Recommendations for Testing, Managing, and Treating Hepatitis C. Alexandria, Va.: The American Association for the Study of Liver Diseases. Arlington, Va.: The Infectious Diseases Society of America. http://www.hcvguidelines.org/. Accessed Nov. 28, 2014.
- Terrault NA, et al. Screening for chronic hepatitis C virus infection. http://www.uptodate.com/home. Accessed Nov. 30, 2014.
- Lorenz R, et al. Clinical manifestations, diagnosis, and treatment of acute hepatitis C in adults. http://www.uptodate.com/home. Accessed Nov. 30, 2014.
- Terrault NA, et al. Diagnosis and evaluation of chronic hepatitis C virus infection. http://www.uptodate.com/home. Accessed Nov. 30, 2014.
- What I need to know about hepatitis C. National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases. http://www.niddk.nih.gov/health-information/health-topics/liver-disease/hepatitis-c/Pages/ez.aspx. Accessed Dec. 1, 2014.
- Hepatic Encephalopathy. Symptoms of liver failure. American Liver Foundation. http://he123.liverfoundation.org/what-is-he/liver-failure-symptoms/. Accessed Dec. 1, 2014.
- Hepatic Encephalopathy. What are the symptoms of HE? American Liver Foundation. http://he123.liverfoundation.org/diagnosis/symptoms-of-he/. Accessed Dec. 1, 2014.
- Chopra S. Clinical manifestations and natural history of chronic hepatitis C virus infection. http://www.uptodate.com/home. Accessed Nov. 30, 2014.
- Kohli A, et al. Treatment of hepatitis C: A systematic review. Journal of the American Medical Association. 2014;13:631.
- Guidelines for the screening, care and treatment of persons with hepatitis C infection. Geneva, Switzerland: World Health Organization. http://www.who.int/hiv/pub/hepatitis/hepatitis-c-guidelines/en/. Accessed Nov. 28, 2014.
- Rice CM, et al. Hepatitis C: Treatment triumphs. Nature. 2014;510:43.
- Picco MF (expert opinion). Mayo Clinic, Jacksonville, Fla. December 10, 2014.
- Golden AK. Decision Support System. Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minn. Nov. 18, 2014.
You Are ... The Campaign for Mayo Clinic
Mayo Clinic is a not-for-profit organization. Make a difference today.