Man, slumped over, looks tired and sick, with yellow jaundiced skin

Ask the Advocate: What Were Your First Symptoms of Hep C?

Last updated: July 2020

There are several common symptoms of chronic HCV, including fatigue, joint pain, muscle aches, low-grade fever, decreased appetite, nausea, and vomiting.1,2 However, some people with hepatitis C infection experience few or no symptoms. This month, we asked our advocates, what, if any, were the first hep C symptoms they experienced. See what they had to say.

Advice from our advocates

From Bill

Fatigue. In my early-30s, I started slowing down precipitously. Prior to that, I would always take the stairs...and usually skip stairs. It was nothing for me to run up several flights of stairs. Then, I started to get tired in the early afternoons. I attributed my malaise to my diet, which had not really changed since I was in college. I also start to slowly gain weight, going from 195 to about 210 over the course of about five years. I just figured my metabolism had crashed. When I learned at 40-years-old that I had hep C, I felt somewhat relieved. I was really starting to fear that I had something far worse and/or untreatable. Read more about Bill here.

From Daniel

Mild fatigue. Read more about Daniel here.

From Debra

I experienced many symptoms during the decade between diagnosis and treatment. I just didn’t know they were symptoms of hepatitis C. Certainly, depression and a lack of concentration. But at the time, I was a director of a medical affairs team at a big pharmaceutical company, while working full time on my PharmD (Doctor of Pharmacy). Since these symptoms can be attributed to many things, I assumed I was tired from my undertakings. And then my liver enzymes went up and it was time to seek treatment. Read more about Debra here.


Fatigue was my first symptom.  I was tired all the time.  No matter how much sleep I got, I was constantly tired.  Muscle and joint pain followed close behind. Trouble opening jars. Doing simple math was becoming difficult in my later stages. Read more about Kim here.

From Rick

Jaundice, itching, and dark urine came the quickest, then came some portal hypertension, which became esophageal varices. I hid my jaundice with a tan early on. But I had to take meds for the blood pressure, which lowered my sex drive when I was like 22. Read more about Rick here.

What were your first symptoms of hepatitis C?

If you are experiencing these symptoms, consider asking your doctor if you should be tested for hepatitis C. If you've been diagnosed, what were your earliest symptoms? Share with us in the comments, or by submitting your story here today.

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