Millions of people in American suffer from the hepatitis C. It is a liver infection caused by the hepatitis C virus (HCV). Even though this condition is now considered to be curable, it’s important we are still aware the dangers because more often than not, it’s left untreated due to the fact that it doesn’t present any obvious symptoms. Due to its ability to go unnoticed, people don’t often realize they have it until it more serious damage is done.
Technically any person can contract hepatitis C, but there are certain groups of people who are at a higher risk, such as baby boomers (anyone born between 1945 and 1965). The scariest thing about hepatitis C is that it’s difficult to diagnose because it doesn’t often present many symptoms. However, if it’s left untreated, it can lead to some pretty nasty complications that can be life threatening. As a result, it’s important to get diagnosed easy so that treatment can begin as soon as possible.
Early Warning Signs
Before we dive too deep into the symptoms, let’s first distinguish between acute hepatitis and chronic hepatitis. Chronic hepatitis C is a long-term infection. Every infection starts off as acute, but not every infection turns chronic. Some people are able to clear an acute infection on their own, or if it’s caught early enough and treated, it will not develop into chronic. However for others, an acute hepatitis C infection that is left untreated will develop into chronic hepatitis C.
Chronic hepatitis C is often referred to as a silent killer because it doesn’t typically present many symptoms until the infection has become so severe that it has spread into the liver and begins showing symptoms elsewhere in the body. These symptoms will be similar to the ones associated with liver damage. The symptoms of acute hepatitis are similar because they too often go unnoticed. If and when they do appear, the Mayo Clinic notes that they will often show up three months after acquiring the infection and they can last anywhere from two weeks to three months.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) predicts that 70 to 80-percent of people with hepatitis C will experience no symptoms at all. Of course, this means there are a small percentage who do. If symptoms do occur, the most common signs of hepatitis C are:
- Dark-colored urine
- Loss of appetite
- Abdominal pain
- Joint pain
- Clay-colored feces
It’s important to note that the symptoms for men and women are the same, but for an unknown reason, men are typically less likely to be able to fight the infection than women. When it comes to men, the infection tends to stay in their body for longer and not exhibit many symptoms, if any at all.