Your body can tell you if something is wrong, but you first need to understand its language. Unfortunately, this is a language you can't learn from Rosetta Stone, Berlitz or Pimsleur. This is the language of signs and symptoms, but, in the case of hepatitis C, often there's not much of either.
It's a startling fact, but according to some studies, up to 70% of people with hepatitis C infection won't have any symptoms--especially in the earliest stages of infection. This means that most people with acute hepatitis C won't even realize they're infected. While checking out hepatitis symptoms is a popular Internet search, people's time would be better spent learning about how hepatitis C spreads and what risk factors they might have that increases their chances of exposure.
By now, some people might be focusing on the remaining 30%. What are their symptoms? Well, this won't be much help either. The symptoms of acute hepatitis C can be very generalized. In the early stages of infection, symptoms are usually vague: fatigue, muscle and joint aches, loss of appetite and headaches. Together these are known as flu-like symptoms, and for most people, these don't scream "Hey, you might have hepatitis!"
That leaves us with jaundice, the classic symptom of hepatitis, and maybe its best known one. However, here again, many people with acute viral hepatitis never experience it. If it is present, it doesn't mean it's viral hepatitis (other diseases can cause jaundice); besides, it might be possible to have very mild jaundice and not even realize it!
This lack of symptoms has given hepatitis C the nickname of silent killer. It's estimated that approximately 19,000 people in the United States become infected with hepatitis C every year. Of these, as many as 85% will become chronically infected, and some of these people won't know they're infected until some unrelated doctor's visit. While chronic hepatitis C isn't a death sentence, it definitely increases the risk of developing cirrhosis and liver cancer. So, learn about hepatitis C risk factors before you're infected and make sure you take prevention seriously. And, one more thing. Spread the word about hepatitis C to your friends. Hepatitis C might be silent, but you don't need to be.