The first phase of the illness usually carries no symptoms. For that reason, hepatitis C is often only diagnosed late. Sometimes signs of illness, such as flu-like symptoms, appear. They can include fatigue, loss of appetite, muscle and joint pain, upper abdominal pain, nausea, vomiting and fever. In some cases, jaundice develops: the eyes and skin become yellow, urine becomes darker and stools become lighter.
Around a quarter of infections heal of their own accord. But around three-quarters of infections with HCV become chronic. Even then, hepatitis C usually causes few or no problems at first.
In some cases, the hepatitis damages the liver very badly. If it leads to cirrhosis of the liver, the liver gradually loses its ability to carry out its functions in the body. There is also the risk of liver cancer developing.