Hepatitis C is one of those diseases that are quite hard to detect. It affects the liver and the immune system. The symptoms occur sporadically over a prolonged period. Also, most of the symptoms tend to overlap with other diseases such as flu, jaundice or diarrhea. This makes the diagnosis of Hepatitis C difficult for doctors.
Also, patients confuse the symptoms with those of common sicknesses and tend to neglect the early signs of infection. Only later, after a lot of time has passed, they are in for a rude shock when their liver starts malfunctioning. Hence, this disease is also known as a silent killer. Sometimes, the symptoms might go away and sometimes they persist. So, a person may suffer from acute Hepatitis C infection or from persistent or chronic Hepatitis C infection.
Acute Hepatitis C: The initial six months of the infection is referred to as acute Hepatitis C. The common symptoms include body aches, fatigue, pain in the upper abdomen, nausea accompanied with vomiting, occasional fever and poor appetite. The symptoms occur within the first three months of infection. They usually last for about two to twelve weeks. Severe symptoms include jaundice, dark urine, and light stool. The person might suffer from diarrhea as well.
Persistent Hepatitis C: In many instances, the Hepatitis C infection is not eliminated from the body within six months. This occurs in 75 to 85 percent of people who are infected with the virus. This condition is known as persistent Hepatitis C. This is a chronic state and requires treatment to flush out the virus from the body.
If not diagnosed, Hepatitis C can be present in the body for 20 to 30 years. If untreated, it will lead to severe damage of the liver. The extreme damage leads to cirrhosis. In worst case scenario, the patient might require a liver transplant.
It is not easy to detect Hepatitis C through symptoms. If a doctor suspects a person has been infected, a blood test is the only way to ascertain whether Hepatitis C virus is present in the body. It is also recommended that persons born between 1945 and 1965 should undergo a one-time Hepatitis C screening. This is because it has been observed that the presence of Hepatitis C is prevalent among people in this. Consult your doctor or local health department if you notice the above symptoms in yourself or someone close to you.