Hepatitis C infection and how it affects the body can be grouped by periods of time called phases. The first six months after someone is infected is called the acute phase. Although most people who are infected may not feel anything during this phase, for some people, symptoms can start to appear as soon as six weeks after infection. These symptoms are usually mild and may go away as the body works to clear the virus by itself. Symptoms of the acute phase can include the following:
Most people with hepatitis C show no symptoms of the disease. That's why someone may have hepatitis C for many years before learning about their hepatitis C status. Unfortunately, by that time, liver damage may have occurred.
If you still have the virus after six months, then you are in the long-term, or chronic, phase of infection. Most people with chronic hepatitis C usually have no symptoms until the virus causes liver damage, which can take many years to happen. These symptoms can include the following:
If you believe you are at risk for hepatitis C and have symptoms listed here, mention them to your doctor. That way, you can discuss getting a hepatitis C test with your doctor.
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