Skip to content

Hepatitis Health Center

Font Size

Liver Symptoms and Hepatitis C

In most cases, you won't have symptoms of hepatitis C until your liver becomes more damaged. That can take a long time -- years or even decades.

If you've been infected with hepatitis C for many years and don't get treatment, you may develop cirrhosis. This is a condition that inflames and scars the liver.

Recommended Related to Hepatitis

Hepatitis C and Sex

The hepatitis C virus usually spreads through blood. The most common way that people get hepatitis C is through injection drug use, including sharing needles or syringes -- not through sex. But it's possible to get hepatitis C through sex.  You're more likely to get hepatitis C through sex if you or your partner have HIV or another sexually transmitted disease, have rough sex, or have more than one sex partner. To lower your chances of getting hepatitis C through sex, avoid sex acts that could...

Read the Hepatitis C and Sex article > >

Symptoms of Cirrhosis

In cirrhosis, scar tissue replaces healthy liver tissue. If this continues unchecked, scarring blocks blood flow through your liver. It also makes it hard for the liver to:

  • Remove harmful toxins from your blood
  • Fight infection
  • Digest food and process nutrients, hormones, and drugs
  • Make proteins to control blood clotting
  • Store energy

When this happens, you may have symptoms such as:

  • Fatigue or weakness
  • Sore muscles
  • Fever
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Loss of appetite or weight loss
  • Dark-yellow urine
  • Light-colored stools
  • Joint pain

When Cirrhosis Gets Worse

As cirrhosis worsens, you are more likely to have symptoms like these:

  • Yellow eyes and skin (jaundice)
  • Itchy skin
  • Bleeding that takes longer to stop
  • Easier bruising
  • Spiderlike blood vessels on your skin
  • Fluid buildup and swelling in your legs (edema)
  • Fluid buildup or bloating in your abdomen (ascites)

Other serious symptoms of cirrhosis include:

  • Vomiting blood or having black-tarry stools
  • Greater sensitivity to drugs
  • Problems fighting infection
  • A low white blood cell or platelet count
  • Gallstones
  • Symptoms of type 2 diabetes
  • Kidney and lung failure
  • Increased risk of liver cancer

A failing liver may also allow toxins to build up in the brain (hepatic encephalopathy). Symptoms of this buildup may include:

  • Confusion
  • Personality changes
  • Memory loss
  • Trouble concentrating
  • Changes in sleeping habits
  • Trembling and hand flapping

WebMD Medical Reference

Reviewed by Arefa Cassoobhoy, MD, MPH on January 27, 2014

Today on WebMD

Hepatitus C virus
Types, symptoms and treatments.
liver illustration
Myths and facts about this essential organ.
woman eating apple
What you need to know.
doctor and patient
What causes it?
Hepatitis C Treatment
Syringes and graph illustration
liver illustration
passport, pills and vaccine
Scientist looking in microscope
Fatty Liver Disease
Digestive Diseases Liver Transplantation
Picture Of The Liver
Image Collection