What is Hep C?

What is HEP C?

Hepatitis C is a virus that can infect the liver. For Hep C to be transmitted there must be blood to blood contact with someone who has the virus. If you get Hep C it can result in inflammation and significant damage to the liver, which stops it from working properly. If left untreated it can lead to serious, and sometimes even life-threatening, damage to the liver.

This is why it is so important that you find out if you are at risk and how to get tested and treated.

What are symptoms of HEP C?

Some people can be living with Hep C and not have any symptoms.

Everyone’s experience will be different, but for most people Hep C develops slowly. Hep C is known as a silent disease because the symptoms aren’t always obvious.

The symptoms vary from person to person, but we have split them into early symptoms (likely to be experienced in first 6 months after contracting Hep C) and long-term symptoms.

Symptoms may begin months or even years after getting Hep C, and can come and go. Symptoms can be mild to severe and can include:

Early symptoms (also known as the acute phase)

  • A high temperature 38°C or above
  • Tiredness
  • Loss of appetite
  • Abdominal (tummy) pains
  • Feeling and being sick

The long term symptoms (also known as chronic Hepatitis C)

  • Feeling tired constantly
  • Joint and muscle aches and pains
  • Feeling sick
  • Problems with short-term memory, concentration and completing complex mental tasks, this is described by many as ‘brain fog’
  • Mood swings
  • Depression and/or anxiety
  • Indigestion or bloating
  • Itchy skin
  • Abdominal pain

If Hep C is left untreated, the infection can eventually cause the liver to become scarred, known as cirrhosis. Signs of cirrhosis include jaundice, vomiting blood, dark poo and a build-up of fluid in the legs or abdomen.

You can find more information on Hepatitis C on the nhs.uk website (England), NHS Direct (Wales), NHS Inform (Scotland) or HSCNI online (Northern Ireland).