Hepatitis C can be either “Acute” or “Chronic.”Acute: Hep C virus infection is a short-term illness that occurs within the first 6 months after someone is exposed to the Hep C virus. Approximately 70%–80% of people with acute Hep C do not have any symptoms. Some people, however, can have mild to severe symptoms soon after being infected, including:
- Loss of appetite
- Abdominal pain
- Dark urine
- Clay-colored bowel movements
- Joint pain
- Jaundice (yellow color in the skin or eyes)
Chronic: Hep C infection becomes chronic in approximately 75%–85% of cases. Even if a person with Hep C has no symptoms, he or she can still spread the virus to others. Many people who are infected with the virus do not know they are infected because they do not look or feel sick.
If symptoms occur, the average time is 6–7 weeks after exposure, but this can range from 2 weeks to 6 months. However, many people infected with the Hep C virus do not develop symptoms.
Chronic Hepatitis C virus infection is a long-term illness that occurs when the virus remains in a person’s body. The Hep C virus infection can last a lifetime and lead to serious liver problems, including cirrhosis (scarring of the liver) or liver cancer.
Most people with chronic Hep C do not have any symptoms. However, if a person has been infected for many years, his or her liver may be damaged. In many cases, there are no symptoms of the disease until liver problems have developed. In persons without symptoms, Hepatitis C is often detected during routine blood tests to measure liver function and liver enzyme level (protein produced by the liver).