Because hepatitis C doesn't always cause symptoms, you may not know you have the virus. Your doctor won't check for hepatitis C unless you think you've had contact with a person who is infected or if you were born between 1945 and 1965. If you think you may have hepatitis C, you can get a blood test.
The CDC recommends that you have a blood test for hepatitis C if any of the following are true:
You received blood from a donor who later was found to have the disease.
The treatments have changed a lot in recent years. The latest is a once-daily pill called Harvoni that cures the disease in most people in 8-12 weeks. It combines two drugs: Sovaldi (sofosbuvir) and ledipasvir. In clinical trials, the most common side effects were fatigue and headache.
Other options your doctor may recommend include taking a combination of Sovaldi (sofosbuvir), Olysio (simeprevir), Incivek (telaprevir), Victrelis (boceprevir), and Viekira Pak (ombitasvir, paritaprevir, dasabuvir, ritonavir). There are also interferon (which you take by injection), and/or ribavirin (which comes as a liquid, tablet, or capsule).
Interferon or ribavirin used to be the main treatment for hepatitis C. They can have side effects including fatigue, flu-like symptoms, anemia, skin rash, mild anxiety, depression, nausea, and diarrhea.
You can talk with your doctor about what's right for you, based on your medical needs and insurance coverage, since the newer hepatitis C drugs are very expensive.
News release, FDA.
American Academy of Family Physicians.
WebMD Medical Reference: "Hepatitis C," "Hepatitis B," "Combination antiviral therapy for hepatitis C." Manual of Family Practice.
Paul Gaglio, MD, medical director of liver transplantation, division of hepatology, Montefiore Medical Center.
U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs: "Hepatitis C Treatment Side Effects Management Chart."
UptoDate: "Patient Information: "Hepatitis C (Beyond the Basics)."