Most people have no symptoms when they are first infected with the hepatitis C virus. If you do develop symptoms, they may include:
• Feeling very tired.
• Joint pain.
• Belly pain.
• Itchy skin.
• Sore muscles.
• Dark urine.
• Yellowish eyes and skin (jaundice). Jaundice usually appears only after other symptoms have started to go away.
Most people go on to develop chronic hepatitis C but still do not have symptoms. This makes it common for people to have hepatitis C for 15 years or longer before it is diagnosed.
Many people find out by accident that they have the virus. They find out when their blood is tested before a blood donation or as part of a routine checkup. Often people with hepatitis C have high levels of liver enzymes in their blood. If your doctor thinks you may have hepatitis C, he or she will talk to you about having a blood test.
need a liver biopsy to see if the virus has caused scarring in your liver. During a liver biopsy, a doctor will insert a needle between your ribs to collect a small sample of liver tissue to look at under a microscope. See a picture of the placement of the needle for a liver biopsy.
Some people prefer to find out on their own if they have been exposed to hepatitis C. You can buy a home test called a Home Access Hepatitis C Check kit at most drugstores. If the test shows that you have been exposed to the virus in the past, be sure to talk to your doctor to find out if you have the virus now.
How is it treated?
You and your doctor need to decide if you should take antiviral medicine to treat hepatitis C. It may not be right for everyone. If your liver damage is mild, you may not need medicine.
If you do need medicine, how well these medicines work depends on how damaged your liver is, how much virus you have in your liver, and what type of hepatitis C you have.
Taking care of yourself is an important part of the treatment for hepatitis C. Some people with hepatitis C do not notice a change in the way they feel. Others feel tired, sick, or depressed. You may feel better if you exercise and eat healthy foods. To help prevent further liver damage, avoid alcohol and illegal drugs and certain medicines that can be hard on your liver.