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Chronic Symptoms

In about 85 percent of people infected with the hepatitis C virus, the body is not able to completely get rid of the virus and they end up having a long-term liver infection. This is called chronic hepatitis C.
With chronic hepatitis C, the scarring within the liver gets bad and it can interfere with or even prevent blood from flowing freely through the liver. This makes it harder for the liver to do its job. As the hepatitis continues, more scars are formed and can begin to join together. When many of these scars form together, it is called cirrhosis.
Cirrhosis means that large areas of the liver have become very badly scarred -- usually permanently. This causes the liver to shrink and harden.
Symptoms of hepatitis C that develop as a result of cirrhosis can include:
  • Exhaustion
  • Fatigue
  • Loss of appetite
  • Nausea
  • Weakness
  • Weight loss
  • Abdominal pain (stomach pain)
  • Spider-like blood vessels (spider angiomas) that develop on the skin.

Late Symptoms

As the liver continues to be damaged and scarred, it may stop performing one or more of its normal functions. For example, it may stop cleaning harmful wastes, toxins, and drugs from the blood. It may also stop making enough of the proteins your body needs to function properly. This is called liver failure.
It is possible that before liver failure develops, people with hepatitis C may not even know that their liver is being damaged. They may not have any hepatitis C symptoms or notice any physical changes to their body.
However, when the liver becomes badly damaged with cirrhosis and liver failure occurs, several late symptoms of hepatitis C can begin to appear, including:
  • Fluid build-up in the stomach area and legs
  • Bleeding in the intestines
  • Slowing of mental function
  • Bruising or bleeding very easily
  • Itchy skin
  • Personality changes
  • Coma or death.
When liver failure occurs in a person with hepatitis C, he or she may also develop:
Written by/reviewed by:
Last reviewed by: Arthur Schoenstadt, MD
Last updated/reviewed:
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