Hepatitis C can be categorised into two stages, firstly an acute infection (following initial infection) and secondly a chronic infection. The acute stage refers to the first 6 months of infection and does not necessarily mean there are any noticeable symptoms. Since symptoms are commonly absent many people are unaware that they have hepatitis C until some time after they have been infected.
Symptoms of acute hepatitis C infection can include:
- Jaundice (yellow skin or eyes)
- Abdominal pain
- Dark urine
- Loss of appetite
- Nausea (sick to your stomach)
People may develop a chronic (long-term) infection and expereince long-term health concerns that are difficult to diagnose (for example, tiredness, lack of energy, or digestive problems). It is important to recognise that hepatitis C can cause a variety of symptoms that are highly variable – people with chronic heaptitis C can feel fine and have no symptoms, however others will suffer from quite severe symptoms.