In most cases, hepatitis C causes no noticeable symptoms until the liver has been significantly damaged. When symptoms do occur, they are often vague and can be easily mistaken for another condition.
Because of this, many people remain unaware that they are infected by hepatitis C.
Symptoms can include:
- loss of appetite
- joint aches and pains.
After many years some people develop symptoms of liver damage:
- jaundice (yellow skin)
- dark urine and pale stools
- stomach ache.
We recommended that you get tested if you are in a high-risk group, such as being a current or former injecting drug user. Hepatitis C is detected using a simple blood test. It can be done at your GP surgery or at a sexual health clinic.
Hepatitis C can be treated with antiviral medicines that are designed to stop the virus from multiplying inside the body and prevent liver damage. Patients with chronic hepatitis C will be referred to a liver specialist for monitoring and drug treatment.
Unlike hepatitis B, there is no vaccine available to protect against hepatitis C. You can reduce your risk of catching hepatitis C by:
- not sharing drug injecting equipment
- ensuring equipment is sterile when getting a tattoo or body piercing
- not sharing razors or toothbrushes
- always using a condom.