Hepatitis C is an infection caused by a virus that attacks the liver and causes liver inflammation. It is one of the several types of hepatitis viruses and it is considered one of the most serious viruses.

Hepatitis C is spread through contact with contaminated blood most commonly through shared needles during use of illegal drugs.

Most hepatitis C cases show no symptoms until the infection is chronic and liver damage occurs.



Symptoms of early stage hepatitis C infection include:


  • Fatigue
  • Nausea
  • Poor appetite
  • Stomach pain
  • Fever
  • Dark urine
  • Yellowing of the skin and whites of the eyes (jaundice)


Symptoms of chronic hepatitis C:


  • Bleeding easily
  • Bruising easily
  • Weight loss
  • Itchy skin
  • Swelling in the legs
  • Fluid accumulation in the abdomen (ascites)
  • Confusion, drowsiness and slurred speech (hepatic encephalopathy)
  • Spider-like blood vessels on the skin (spider angiomas)



Hepatitis C virus is most commonly spread through contact with contaminated blood.


Risk factors

Risk factors for hepatitis C include:


  • Being exposed to infected blood
  • Injecting or inhaling illegal drugs
  • HIV
  • Getting a piercing or tattoo in unclean environment or using unsterile equipment
  • Being a recipient of blood transfusion or organ transplant before 1992
  • Received clotting factor concentrates before 1987
  • Long-term hemodialysis treatments
  • Being born by a woman infected with hepatitis C
  • Spending time in prison



Untreated hepatitis C infection can cause the following complications:


  • Scarring of liver tissue (cirrhosis): Cirrhosis can occur after 20 to 30 years of the infection and can cause difficulties in liver functions.
  • Liver cancer: In rare cases, hepatitis C infection can cause liver cancer.
  • Liver failure due to a severely damaged liver.



Precautions to prevent hepatitis C infection:


  • Avoid and stop using illegal drugs
  • Receive piercing and tattoos in a clean and sterile environment
  • Practice safe sex