hands drawing on a graph shaped like a battery. The trend line is going down to indicate fatigue

What Are The Most Common Symptoms of Hepatitis C?

The hepatitis C virus (HCV) affects the liver, the organ responsible for filtering out toxins and cleaning your blood. When HCV is not treated, it can cause long-term health issues.1

Chronic HCV can result in many different symptoms, including fatigue, muscle aches, loss of appetite, and nausea, to name a few. However, these symptoms typically come after many years of being infected with HCV. This is why it is crucial to be screened for HCV, even if you have no symptoms.2

In our 2020 Hepatitis C In America survey, we explored the most common symptoms of chronic HCV. More than 400 people completed the survey, including those who have been cured of their HCV as well as those not yet cured.

Their responses provided valuable insight into HCV symptoms and how well they are managed.

Fatigue and muscle aches are common

Because chronic HCV impacts the liver, it can cause the body to feel extremely tired (fatigued) and achy. Our survey found that fatigue and muscle aches are the most common symptoms in both people who have been cured of HCV and those not yet cured.

Of those cured of HCV:

81 percent reported fatigue
62 percent reported muscle aches, including leg cramps

Of those not yet cured:

82 percent reported fatigue
70 percent reported muscle aches, including leg cramps

Depression and anxiety impact many

Coping with an HCV diagnosis is not easy. Many people with HCV feel depressed and anxious about their diagnosis, treatment options, and the resources that are available to them.

According to the survey, both groups of respondents reported feelings of depression and anxiety:

61 percent of those who have cured of HCV
68 percent of those not yet cured

Muscle and skeletal issues

Chronic HCV has been known to cause rheumatic issues. These are problems that affect the bones, muscles, and joints. These issues can take the form of arthritis (inflammation and swelling of the joints), muscle pain and weakness, and loss of bone density.3

Of those who have been cured:

49 percent have muscle and skeletal issues
55 percent have joint pain

Of those who have not yet been cured:

42 percent have muscle and skeletal issues
59 percent have joint pain

Differences among cured and not yet cured

HCV can cause a wide range of symptoms that impact everything from pain to sleep. These symptoms can have a far-reaching impact on the quality of life for both those who have been cured and those not yet cured.

However, people who have been cured are more likely to have experienced hair loss and autoimmune disease, while more people who have not yet cured have experienced abdominal pain.

Of those who have been cured:

59 percent have cognitive difficulties
59 percent have insomnia, trouble sleeping, and night sweats
57 percent have itchy skin or skin rashes
46 percent have hair loss
27 percent have an autoimmune disease
46 percent have abdominal pain

Of those who have not yet been cured:

55 percent have cognitive difficulties
61 percent have insomnia, trouble sleeping, and night sweats
59 percent have itchy skin or skin rashes
29 percent have hair loss
12 percent have an autoimmune disease
56 percent have abdominal pain

Managing HCV symptoms

HCV symptoms can be overwhelming and hard to live with. But for those who have been treated or are currently in treatment, these symptoms are well-managed. According to our survey, 85 percent of those who have been cured feel their symptoms are under control.

But in the not yet cured group, just 33 percent feel they have control over their symptoms. Among this group, 48 percent have never been treated for their HCV, and 32 percent have been treated in the past but are no longer being treated.

If you are living with HCV and are struggling to cope with symptoms, reach out to your doctor and care team. They can provide you with resources and support that can help you manage your symptoms. Remember, you are not alone.

The 2020 Hepatitis C In America Survey was conducted online from April through August 2020. The survey was completed by 190 people classified as "Cured" (no longer having the infection) and 217 classified as "Not Cured" (still infected).

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This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The HepatitisC.net team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.

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