Hepatitis C is a liver disease caused by infection with the hepatitis C virus. The liver becomes swollen and tender (inflamed) and may develop permanent damage, such as scarring or liver cancer.
Initial symptoms of hepatitis C are mild. They include fatigue, sore muscles, abdominal pain, and sometimes dark urine. Hepatitis C is diagnosed with blood tests, but the disease usually goes unnoticed until years later after liver damage develops.
Hepatitis C is spread through sharing needles, being exposed to infected blood, or, very rarely, having unprotected sex with an infected partner.
Treatment for hepatitis C includes antiviral medicines and supportive therapy. A liver transplant sometimes is needed.
Last Revised: July 6, 2011
Author: Healthwise Staff
Medical Review: E. Gregory Thompson, MD - Internal Medicine & W. Thomas London, MD - Hepatology
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