From The Community: Early Hepatitis C Signs and Symptoms
Last updated: June 2023
When it comes to pinpointing the early signs of hepatitis C, there is no easy answer. And, symptoms vary from person to person. Some people may think some of the early warning signs of hep C, like fatigue and nausea, are symptoms of a harmless bug, while others experience no symptoms at all.
To hear more about what hepatitis C looks like early on, we reached out to followers of our Facebook page. We asked members to tell us: “Did you experience any hep C symptoms before your diagnosis?” We saw nearly 50 responses from the community. Here is what was shared.
Feeling extremely tired
Exhaustion is one of the most common symptoms of hepatitis C. This feeling of fatigue does not get better with sleep, and it can vary in intensity between people with hep C. It can also show up at different times of the day for different people. Because fatigue can affect both work and quality of life, it should not be ignored when it shows up suddenly or with greater intensity.
“I was tired all the time, but I had been that way my entire life.”
“Just tired, working hard. Many people are.”
Body aches or pain
The second most common response given by our community was that they experienced body aches. These can show up as sharp, stabbing pain near the liver or the upper right area. Some people with hepatitis C also experience pain in their bones. Wherever it shows up, it is often worth getting checked out.
“It was not until all of my insides felt swollen, inflamed, and painful that I knew something was seriously wrong.”
“Horrible body and bone pain.”
Having no symptoms
Many people experience no symptoms. This is often one of the biggest challenges of hepatitis C – that the disease may be silent and show up unannounced. Many people are surprised when they find out they have been living with the diagnosis.
“No symptoms at all.”
Not knowing until being testing
Many people are completely unaware that they have hepatitis C or have never thought about being tested. For some people, the first and only indicator is when a doctor suggests blood work, and that blood work comes back positive for hepatitis C.
“Lately, things just started flaring up, and I decided to talk to my doctor. He sent me to the rheumatologist to get tested for autoimmune diseases. Hep c antibodies showed up, and I actually went back today and found that out, so the rheumatologist had more labs run to know more.”
“I never did and did not even think about it until I had a complete physical, and my doctor suggested being tested for it. I was not happy to learn I tested positive, but not surprised because in 1973, I had an 8-hour major surgery and had blood transfusions.”
“I went into a clinic for a full blood panel since it had been several years since I had one. That is when I found out I had it, but that it was not active. Another 10 years, and it became active.”
Thank you to everyone who shared their experiences for this story. We are grateful that so many community members joined the conversation.