This page contains more detail about the different symptoms of hepatitis C and health conditions which may be linked to chronic hepatitis C.
In this page:
What are the symptoms of hepatitis C?
Many people who have hepatitis C (HCV) do not experience any symptoms.
When symptoms do occur, it is not uncommon for healthcare professionals to mistake your symptoms for another, more common medical condition.
Whether you have symptoms or not, ask your GP for a hepatitis C test if you think you may have been exposed to the virus.
During the first six months of infection (acute hepatitis C), around 1 in 5 people experience one or more of the following symptoms:
- Fatigue (tiredness)
- Loss of appetite
- Stomach ache
- Nausea and/ or vomiting
- A temperature of 38°C (100.4°F) or above
- Jaundice (yellowing of the eyes and skin)
If you have had hepatitis C for more than six months (chronic hepatitis C), you are more likely to experience symptoms.
Symptoms can vary drastically from person to person – with some people barely noticing any problems at all and others becoming very unwell.
Without treatment, symptoms may also go away and return over many years.
Common symptoms of chronic hepatitis C include:
- Pain in the abdomen (tummy) – often a sharp pain located on the right-hand side of your body
- Digestive problems such as nausea (feeling sick), indigestion and bloating
- Itchy skin
- Chronic fatigue (feeling tired all the time)
- Mood swings
- Depression or anxiety
- Short-term memory loss or difficulty concentrating (brain fog)
It is important to remember that having these symptoms does not necessarily mean you have hepatitis C, but you should get tested to find out.
If you have already been diagnosed with hepatitis C, you should let your specialist care team know about any new symptoms you experience. These symptoms could also relate to another health condition so it is important that they know what’s going on.
What does hepatitis C do to your body?
If left untreated, hepatitis C can cause serious damage to your liver.
The damage can lead to scarring and hardening of the liver tissue (cirrhosis) and can eventually lead to life-threatening complications such as liver failure and liver cancer.
Around 20% of people who have untreated hepatitis C develop cirrhosis after about 20 to 30 years.
Symptoms of cirrhosis can include jaundice, vomiting blood, dark poo, and a build-up of fluid in the legs or abdomen.
A small number of people who get cirrhosis go on to develop liver cancer.
Conditions linked to hepatitis C
Hepatitis C has been linked to a number of other health conditions.
This does not mean you will get all or any of the conditions below if you have had hepatitis C, but some evidence suggests you may be more likely to develop them than someone who has never had hepatitis C.
These conditions include:
- Autoimmune thyroid dysfunction
- Type 2 diabetes
- Heart disease
- Gallbladder disease
- Non-Hodgkin lymphoma
If you would like more information on the conditions listed above, please visit our Other helpful organisations page, where you can find organisations that can offer further support and information.