Managing your life during Hepatitis C Treatment
TREATMENT Managing your life during Treatment
Courses of treatment for hepatitis C can be long, arduous and may not even ultimately eliminate the virus. Patients have to deal with side effects such as hair loss, nausea, and depression. Although the treatment for many cases is a course of antiviral medications, some patients choose to defer treatment even when advised not to do so, according to the National Center for Biotechnology Information. In the most serious cases, a patient may get a liver transplant.
Despite some widely touted “natural” remedies such as milk thistle and licorice, there is no evidence that these substances are effective, according to the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (NCCAM). And some widely used supplements, such as kombucha, senna and valerian, may actually harm the liver. Make sure your doctor knows every medication you are taking, whether prescription, over the counter, herbs, dietary supplements, or vitamins.
There’s no doubt that hepatitis C is a discouraging and difficult condition. But it is possible to have a good quality of life by following these expert suggestions from the U.S. Department of Veterans’ Affairs (VA):
Eat well. Your diet should be rich in whole grains as well as fresh fruits and vegetables. Make sure you get enough protein from low-fat dairy products, lean meat, soy nuts, or eggs. Stay hydrated.
Maintain a good weight. It’s especially important to avoid being overweight, since that condition can add fatty tissue to your liver.
Manage your pain. Patients may experience joint pain due to proteins in the blood. Antiviral treatment may alleviate this. It’s important to remember, though, that increased pain doesn’t mean your condition is getting worse. And some of your pain may be related to side effects from your medication, not from the illness itself. Talk with your doctor about the best method of pain relief for you.
Don’t ignore your mental health. Strong emotions such as fear or anger are natural after being diagnosed with hepatitis C. You may also become depressed. Don’t ignore these feelings, since they may make you more inclined to ignore your physical health as well. Talk with your doctor about the best way to handle these issues, including antidepressant therapy and attending support groups.
Know your sexual risks. If you have been in a long-time monogamous relationship, and your partner doesn’t have hepatitis C, there’s no need to change your sex life, the VA says. If you are worried nonetheless, use latex condoms. People who have more than one sex partner should reduce the number of their partners and use latex condoms as part of a safer-sex practice. There’s no definitive finding on whether the virus can be spread through oral or anal sex, though it’s likely than anal sex is the riskier of the two. There’s no risk of spreading the virus via hugging or kissing.
Hepatitis C Information for the Public – CDC
Diseases and Conditions, Hepatitis C, MayoClinic.org
New York Presbyterian, Weill Cornell Medical Center, Viral Hepatitis