What are the symptoms of Hepatitis C?
Hepatitis C affects people very differently – many people with it may have no symptoms at all and may never know they have the virus. About one in five people infected with hepatitis C will clear the virus, in its acute form, within two to six months. About 80% of people who are infected with hepatitis C will develop a chronic infection.
Chronic hepatitis C can be very different for each individual; many find some of their symptoms come and go and some may find they have the following symptoms:
- mild to serious tiredness (fatigue)
- anxiety and/or depression
- weight loss
- loss of appetite and/or feeling sick
- discomfort in the liver area (place your right hand over your lower right ribs and it will just about cover the area of your liver)
- inability to tolerate alcohol
- problems concentrating (brain fog)
- joint and muscle aches
- itchy skin (pruritus)
- flu-like symptoms such as fever, chills, night sweats and headaches
It is not unusual for people with hepatitis C to be diagnosed as having ME or chronic fatigue syndrome. The liver has no nerve endings – meaning liver specific symptoms might not develop until the liver is in the advanced stage of cirrhosis. Even if you have mild or no symptoms, you can still pass the virus on.
If you are worried that you may need a test for hepatitis C, download our factsheet: testing for viral hepatitis.
Treatment for hepatitis C
Effective treatments for hepatitis C are now available and can result in you permanently clearing hepatitis C. Once you are diagnosed with hepatitis C it is important to get a prompt referral to a specialist who can offer treatment (usually a hepatologist, gastroenterologist or infectious disease specialist) and can assess the virus, genotype and your current liver health. This information will help them establish if you should start treatment and, if so, the best treatment course for you.
‘Clearing’ the hepatis C infection does not mean you are immune (protected lifelong against the virus); this means you should take precautions to minimise the risk of becoming re-infected.
Please download the publication below for full information on current treatments.Download the publication
Diet and weight
You can eat a normal, well-balanced diet. Read more here.
Try to maintain a body weight appropriate for your height and build. Maintaining a healthy weight is important, as obesity can also increase your risk of developing more severe hepatitis-related liver disease, and have an impact on how well you respond to treatment. Read more about keeping a healthy weight here.
Some people develop a poor appetite, nausea and vomiting and unintended weight loss during treatment with anti-viral agents. Read more about coping with eating difficulties here.
Approximately 10% of people with chronic viral hepatitis develop cirrhosis and may need to follow a special diet. Read more about diet and cirrhosis here.
Avoid drinking alcohol in more than small amounts, as this can increase your risk of developing more severe hepatitis-related liver disease, and interfere with the effectiveness of treatment.
The I’m Worth… campaign has been created to support people living with Hepatitis C. It aims to address the stigma that many people with Hepatitis C face, encouraging and empowering people living with hepatitis C to access care and services no matter how or when they were infected. For more information on the campaign and to access materials designed to support people living with hepatitis C and those around them, please visit www.imworth.co.uk
To view a short film of people’s experiences of contracting Hepatitis C in Canada click here
To access the HEPscreen toolkit for screening EU migrants click here
To access BASL Treatment Recommendations for the management of patients with Chronic HCV Infection click here
NICE guidance for Simeprevir: Published February 2015 – click here to view
NICE guidance for Sofosbuvir: Published February 2015 – click here to view
Scottish Medicines Consortium (SMC) guidance for use of ledipasvir-sofosbuvir (Harvoni) within NHS Scotland: Published February 2015 – click here to view
Please visit the support section of our website for information on Support groups in your area or visit our Useful Links section for other organisations who may be able to offer information and support.
If you were infected with Hepatitis C due to treatment within the NHS prior to 1991 then please contact :
The Skipton Fund
PO Box 50107
London SW1H 0YF
Tel: 020 7808 1160
( Fund set up by the government, the Fund distributes payments of £20,000 to people who can prove that they were infected with hepatitis C before 1991 due to treatment within the NHS.)
A Group Legal Action for those infected with Hepatitis C or Hepatitis C & HIV via the use of Contaminated Factor VIII and Factor XI in the 1970’s and 1980’ is being led by Collins Law. If you are interested in finding out more or registering your interest, contact Collins Law directly on 0800 731 5821. See also: http://www.collinslaw.co.uk
Please note that the British Liver Trust is not directly involved in this legal action and cannot directly support any claimants.
Hepatitis C risks: https://youtu.be/198I6-DS94A
Risks from unscreened blood: https://youtu.be/HwK85w7-AAI
Risks from needle sharing: https://youtu.be/7vGn9Vqo1eU
Risks from medical/dental treatment abroad: https://youtu.be/-zqTcvYlRM4
Risks from unsterile tattoos or piercings: https://youtu.be/knQJ7bfkQ48
Hepatitis C risks: https://youtu.be/Ewx3ysyzI3E
Risks from unscreened blood: https://youtu.be/KQPxdRlSdzg
Risks from medical/dental treatment abroad: https://youtu.be/V5GH763nyE8
Risks from unsterlile tattoss or piercings: https://youtu.be/5E2iz-TbNis
Hepatitis C risks: https://youtu.be/qCeH5x-uCjk
Risks from unscreened blood: https://youtu.be/qCeH5x-uCjk
Risks from needle sharing: https://youtu.be/MWtJrRwf7tY
Risks from medical/dental treatment abroad: https://youtu.be/FzsvnVO2eTg
Risks from unsterile tattoos or piercings: https://youtu.be/8LDc_PZW7NA
Please visit the support section of our website for information on Support groups in your area.
Call our helpline or visit our online forum.Visit