What is hepatitis C? Hepatitis C is a virus which can infect the liver. It is usually possible to cure the hepatitis C infection. The NHS says that about 215,000 people in the UK have hepatitis C. With the use of the latest medications, the NHS also says more than 90% of people who get hepatitis C, may be cured.
Symptoms of Hepatitis C
Hepatitis C doesn’t show any clear symptoms until the liver has been affected by it quite significantly. So, many people may have it without realising it. About 1 in 3 or 4 people will have any symptoms during the first six months of a hepatitis C infection – the acute hepatitis C stage.
If signs show, some may be mistaken to be flu-like symptoms instead. Hepatitis C symptoms appear a few weeks after infection and may include:
- A high temperature of 38°C (100.4F) or more
- Feeling tired
- A loss of appetite
- Tummy ache
- Nausea and vomiting
About 1 in 5 people who show signs of infection will also have yellowing of the eyes and skin (jaundice). About 1 in 4 people with hepatitis C battle the virus within just a few months with no further symptoms present unless they get a new infection. For others, the virus stays in the body for years – chronic hepatitis C.
Chronic hepatitis symptoms can sometimes be barely there but for others, they can have a noticeable impact on their quality of life. Hepatitis C symptoms can also go away for a while and then return.
Common symptoms of chronic hepatitis C include:
- Feeling constantly tired
- Having joint and muscle aches and pain
- Problems with short-term memory, concentrating and completing tasks like mental maths – “brain fog”
- Mood swings
- Indigestion or bloating
- Itchy skin
- Tummy pain
What causes Hepatitis C?
You may be thinking how do you get hepatitis C? You can get hepatitis C by coming into contact with the blood of an infected person. Hepatitis C is a virus usually passed on via blood-to-blood contact.
You can get hepatitis C by:
- Sharing unsterilised needles – like the needles used to inject recreational drugs
- Sharing razors or toothbrushes
- Having unprotected sex (sex without using a condom) – but this is very rare
Hepatitis C is an infection which a pregnant woman can pass on to her unborn baby.
Treatments for Hepatitis C
Know for sure if you have hepatitis C by booking an appointment to get a rapid results test. It is a blood test. Once tested, you can access hepatitis C treatment, if it is what you really need. Early rapid result STD testing and treatment means you can prevent or limit any damage to your liver and help to prevent the infection being passed on.
If hepatitis C is left untreated, over time, it can lead to cirrhosis of the liver (where the liver becomes scarred). Other complications in severe cases include the development of liver failure or liver cancer.