A liver infection that can cause liver damage is known as hepatitis C. This disease is caused by the hepatitis C virus, but the symptoms don’t show easily, so many are unaware that they are carrying the virus. About 4 million people in the country have this ailment. The most common form is type 1 hepatitis C, which spreads through blood or body fluids. Let’s look at the stages and early signs of hepatitis C.

1. Stages of hepatitis C
The disease is categorized into several stages:

  • Incubation period
    This is the beginning of the disease and normally lasts for a period of 14-80 days, the average being 45 days.
  • Acute phase
    This is the first 6-month phase once the disease occurs, and the body can get rid of it on its own in this period.
  • Chronic hepatitis C
    If the body cannot clear the infection on its own in 6 months, it becomes a lasting infection and can lead to cirrhosis or liver cancer.
  • Cirrhosis
    In this phase, the healthy liver cells convert to scar tissue, and alcohol consumption can result in a quicker progression to this stage than otherwise. Generally, it takes anywhere between 20 and 30 years for a patient to reach this stage.
  • Liver cancer
    Cirrhosis can progress to liver cancer, so patients should get a checkup if they notice any symptoms of hepatitis C.

2. Early warning signs of hepatitis C
Around 70-80 percent of people with hepatitis C do not display any signs. The symptoms normally occur within 2 weeks to 6 months after the infection when they do manifest. Here are a few early warning signs of hepatitis C that one should watch out for:

  • Dark urine
    If urine has turned dark over a period, it is advisable to get checked for liver cancer. Urine color also changes due to other reasons, but it’s best to get chronic health issues out of the probable causes.
  • Clay-colored stool
    If the color of stool changes to clay, one should get checked for this disease.
  • Fatigue
    If one is experiencing persistent fatigue, along with the warning signs mentioned earlier, it’s best to get tested for hepatitis C.
  • Fever
    In some cases, fever is caused by liver cancer, and other symptoms may also be detected.
  • Jaundice
    The occurrence of jaundice could indicate hepatitis C or other liver infections.
  • Nausea
    In some patients, a regular feeling of nausea could be an early warning sign of hepatitis C.
  • Stomach pain and vomiting
    Stomach pain is a common yet overlooked early warning sign of hepatitis C. Regular stomach pains may indicate a serious health issue, and vomiting can also indicate this disease, so it’s best to visit a doctor for a thorough checkup.
  • Joint pain
    Joint pain, along with any of the above-mentioned symptoms, could indicate a hepatitis C infection.
  • Loss of appetite
    Another common early sign of hepatitis C is the loss of appetite. Although this often occurs due to other reasons, liver cancer must be ruled out.