The main symptom of most people with hepatitis C is chronic fatigue, ranging from simply getting tired easily to extreme, debilitating fatigue. The fatigue is often not recognized as such. Many people suffering from this “fatigue” do not have a desire to sleep because they are tired. Rather, they are suffering a very low level muscle pain (which often they do not recognize) that just wears them down. Taking a nap really helps. “It took me years to figure out that it was pain. When nurses would say to me, you look tired, I wouldn’t know what they meant. I did not always want to go to sleep. Now much of that has changed. I do get sleepy-tired and must nap often” (squeeky).
A recent study by Goh J, Coughlan B, Quinn J, O'Keane JC, Crowe J Department of Hepatology, Mater Misericordiae Hospital and University College Dublin, Ireland found that fatigue does not correlate with the degree of hepatitis or the presence of autoimmune disorders in chronic hepatitis C infection. The doctors concluded that the perceived functional impact of fatigue on quality of life is significantly higher in patients with chronic HCV genotype 1b infection compared to healthy controls. However, it is unrelated to the degree of hepatitis and cannot be accounted for by the co-existence of autoimmune disorders alone. Eur J Gastroenterol Hepatol 1999 Aug;11(8):833-8