A person holds their stomach, which appears as a multi-colored blur against an otherwise blandly-color body.

What Are the Early Warning Signs of Hepatitis C?

You may be one of the few people who get early warning signs of hepatitis C. It starts within the first few weeks after exposure, and is like a flare up; That’s your body’s immune response to the virus giving a shout out. From there, you can expect a couple of things: First, you can move into the acute stage, and your body may actually fight off the virus. This is rare. Second, you may move from acute hep C to chronic.

Early signs of hep C

While in the acute stage, which can last up to 6 months, you might notice several symptoms. I’ll list them below. If you don’t know you have hep C, these may less noticeable. In fact, some people think they are just fighting off a bug, or another type of virus.

  • Fatigue
  • Nausea
  • Loss of appetite
  • Vomiting
  • Stomach pain
  • Dark urine
  • Sleeping a lot
  • Joint pain
  • Flu-like symptoms
  • jaundice

How long do symptoms last?

The early warning signs of hepatitis C can begin and end anywhere from 2 to 12 weeks after your exposure. Please remember that most people are asymptomatic. This means they do NOT develop any early signs, but DO go on to develop chronic hep C. That’s what happened to me.

Delayed symptoms

Many people do not see signs for several months. Others may wait up to 10 years before they see a symptom. That’s why it is important to take notice of any time you may have had the flu, a virus, or flu-like symptoms. Early testing and detection can lead to faster treatment. Testing and treatment can also prevent you from getting advanced liver disease or other illnesses.

Getting tested

If you as you have early warning signs of hepatitis C, it is best to get tested. Also, if you know someone who has hepatitis C, and there is a chance it was transmitted to you, get tested. In fact, anyone who has lifestyle factors that increase exposure to hepatitis C should talk to a doctor. A simple blood test will show if you have the antibody. If you do test positive, you will have more tests for RNA, viral load, and genotype.

Acute can lead to chronic

You may have had some of the symptoms listed above months or even years ago. Then things settled down, and you forgot about them. Remember, if you had a case of acute hep C, there is a great risk that it has turned into chronic hep C. A very small number of people will have what is called a spontaneous remission, but most people with early warning signs will develop chronic hepatitis C.

Medical help for treatment

Now that you know what the early warning signs of hepatitis C are, look back at your own health history. If you have been exposed, or have had a period where you had symptoms of hep C, call your doctor. Remember, according to the CDC, 8 out of 10 people with hep C will not experience symptoms. By getting a simple blood test, you can start treatment with the latest medications. Within weeks, you can be hep C free and your body can start healing.

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