Hepatitis C has an incubation period of up to six months, and most symptoms occur long after infection with HCV. Hepatitis C occurs due to infection with a virus and therefore most medical treatments prescribed to patients with the disease include antiviral agents. Hepatitis C is a liver disease that doesn’t always generate pronounced symptoms. People with chronic forms of the disease often don’t reveal clinical hepatitis C symptoms and the only effective means of diagnosing this type of hepatitis are blood analyses. It is also important to note that in the initial stages of the disease, most hepatitis C symptoms have an unspecific character and don’t always point to infection with HCV. Due to this fact, patients suspected with hepatitis C require laboratory tests and sometimes liver biopsy before they are prescribed a specific medical treatment.
In the early stages of the disease, hepatitis C symptoms are: lack of appetite, nausea and mild fever. At this stage, most patients may experience hepatitis C symptoms at a very low intensity, while others may not have any symptoms at all. Statistics indicate that only 10 percent of patients with acute forms of the disease have hepatitis C symptoms in the early stages of infection, while the rest don’t show any clinical symptoms at all. Due to this fact, hepatitis is usually diagnosed late, therefore allowing the disease to become chronic. Some patients have intense symptoms only when they develop complications (cirrhosis).
As the infection progresses, hepatitis C symptoms become more clear. In later stages of the disease, hepatitis C symptoms are: yellowish aspect of the skin, hypo-pigmentation of the iris and yellowish aspect of the eyes (jaundice), dark-colored urine and light-colored feces. At this stage of the disease, people may also experience the following hepatitis C symptoms: pronounced fatigue, muscle and joint pain, abdominal discomfort and vomiting. Although hepatitis C symptoms are usually vague, a common sign of disease is pronounced fatigue. Regardless of the form of disease, all patients with hepatitis C experience a generalized, recurrent state of tiredness and weakness. Weight loss and intolerance to alcohol are also common hepatitis C symptoms.
Considering the fact that hepatitis C symptoms are usually mild and have an unspecific character, it is almost impossible to diagnose the disease in its incipient stage relying solely on patients’ reports of symptoms. Although hepatitis C raises problems in establishing a clinical diagnose, the disease can be revealed by blood analyses and liver biopsy. It is very important to quickly find traces of infection with HCV in patients, as hepatitis C can aggravate rapidly in the absence of medical treatment. Without appropriate medical treatment, people with acute hepatitis can in time develop chronic forms of the disease. Furthermore, people with untreated chronic hepatitis are very exposed to developing cirrhosis and even liver cancer. Considering the fact that medical treatments are mostly effective in the incipient stages of hepatitis C, it is vital to timely discover the presence of the disease in patients.