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Hepatitis C - How do doctors diagnose hepatitis C?

BMJ Group Medical Reference

Most people with hepatitis C don't get any symptoms for many years after they've been infected. So, it often takes a long time before people are diagnosed with hepatitis C.

If you think you might have hepatitis C, it is important to tell your doctor so they can find out for certain. If you do have hepatitis C you will need to:

  • Think about having treatment

  • Do things to stay as healthy as possible

  • Take steps so that you don't pass the hepatitis C virus on to other people.

Here are some of the things your doctor may do to work out if you have hepatitis C.

Questions your doctor may ask

Your doctor may ask some questions to find out if you are at high risk of having hepatitis C. It's important to be honest. So, tell your doctor even if these things happened a long time ago.

These are questions your doctor will probably ask you.[43]

  • Have you ever injected illegal drugs?

  • Do you have sex with someone who has hepatitis C? Do you use a condom?

  • Do you share toothbrushes or razors with someone who has hepatitis C?

  • Have you ever had blood transfusions or products made from blood?

  • Have you ever got medical or dental treatment in a country with lower hygiene standards than the UK?

  • Have you ever had a tattoo or got any part of your body pierced?

Your doctor will also ask you to describe any symptoms that you have noticed.

Physical examination

Your doctor may examine your abdomen. They will check to see if it's bloated and if your liver is bigger than normal. Your doctor will look at your skin and the white parts of your eyes to see if they have turned yellow. They may also check your ankles to see if they're swollen.

Last Updated: September 18, 2013
This information does not replace medical advice.  If you are concerned you might have a medical problem please ask your Boots pharmacy team in your local Boots store, or see your doctor.
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