Hepatitis C (hep C) is a liver infection caused by the hepatitis C virus (HCV). If you were recently diagnosed with hep C, there are several ways you can contribute to the success of your treatment.
Staying on top of your health, communicating with your doctor, attending regular appointments, and getting organized are some key examples.
Important factors to consider during treatment include adhering to a specific medication schedule for multiple weeks or months, getting regular blood tests to monitor treatment, and managing side effects, such as fatigue, flu-like symptoms, nausea, diarrhea, mouth sores, skin rashes, and sleep issues.
It’s also important to keep in mind that you’re 95 percent likely to be cured of hep C following treatment.
Here are some ways you can prepare for your hep C treatment.
Organization prior to hep C treatment will help you adhere to your regimen and prepare for any obstacles that come your way.
Here are some ways you can get organized:
- Create a calendar to keep track of doctor appointments or blood tests, and set reminders for when it’s time to go.
- Talk with your insurance company about the cost of medications, and determine how to pay for treatment.
- If needed, reach out to organizations that provide financial assistance for the medications.
- Write down your medication schedule, and set reminders to alert you when it’s time to take them.
- Purchase pill containers that have compartments for each day of the week to help you keep track.
Prior to hep C treatment, tell your doctor about prescription and over-the-counter medications you take, in addition to supplements or complementary medicines.
Any chemicals that enter your body could react poorly to your treatment or make it less effective. Supplements, like iron or vitamin A, may seem harmless or beneficial, but they could potentially have a negative impact on your liver.
Hep C is a condition that causes liver damage, and alcohol consumption can put you at a deeper risk of developing liver injuries or liver cancer. To slow disease progression, consider limiting or cutting out alcohol.
Aside from the risk to the liver, alcohol can also cause dehydration. You’ll want to stay hydrated during your treatment for hep C.
A person who is overweight may be more susceptible to liver disease, while malnutrition is often a complication of cirrhosis (scarring of the liver). Maintaining a moderate weight can help keep the liver healthy, and keep the body strong while undergoing treatment for hepatitis C.
Be sure to consult your doctor about maintaining or reaching a moderate weight to promote liver health and help during your hepatitis C treatment journey.
The food you eat can positively impact the health of your liver (and of you). Healthy foods boost your liver’s function, and a well-balanced diet that focuses on whole foods will keep your immune system strong.
Talk with your doctor about changing your diet to focus on foods that contain extra fiber, vitamins, minerals, and protein.
Consider avoiding foods that contain high amounts of fat, sugar, or salt. Finding a balance will help you maintain the health of your liver.
In addition to a balanced diet, your body needs a lot of water to stay healthy. Usually, eight glasses of water a day (or more) is recommended.
Aside from water, other liquids are great, too. Just keep in mind that juices or other flavored drinks may contain extra sugar and ingredients.
Regular movement can help your body function well, in addition to cutting liver fat. Exercise also boosts your mood, ensures a healthy appetite, and promotes sleep. All of these factors help you adhere to your hepatitis C treatment.
Exercise can involve:
- weight training
- other sports
You can even count home activities, like gardening or cleaning, as exercise if you engage in them for lengthy periods of time.
Make sure you don’t overdo exercise during your treatment, as your body will also need proper rest. Talk with your doctor about the right amount of exercise for your body.
Feeling emotionally well will help you adhere to the hep C treatment schedule and keep your immune system functioning appropriately. While it might be hard to maintain during treatment, a positive outlook will regulate your emotions.
Ways to keep a positive mood include:
- eating well, exercising, and getting enough sleep
- talking with friends or family
- engaging in a hobby
- keeping your expectations realistic
- taking quiet moments for yourself for reflection or meditation
- finding a support group to share thoughts and feelings
Hep C is often treatable, but the course of treatment can last several weeks. Prepare yourself by creating a plan for treatment and practicing healthy habits.
Talk with your doctor if you have concerns about adhering to the hep C treatment plan. They can help you prepare for the medication course and direct you to any needed resources.