Hepatitis C is a curable, but silent virus that lives in millions of people. Though the virus rarely exhibits symptoms, there are steps one must take to improve their health and protect the health of others during hepatitis C treatment.
Watch Your Medicine Cabinet.
Alcohol isn't the only liver-damaging substance; there are several prescription medications that can hurt your at-risk liver, too. Over-the-counter meds or even "natural" herbal supplements such as kombucha tea, comfrey tea and kava can also be harmful. Be sure to always ask your doctor for clearance to take any new medications or supplements.
Watch Your Weight.
Maintaining a healthy diet, exercising regularly and staying hydrated are essential to your health, especially when living with hep C. Carrying extra weight may make hep C meds take longer to work. Plus, it increases the risk of developing fatty liver disease which can lead to cirrhosis.
A nutritious diet to maintain during hep C treatment is filled with whole grains, fresh fruits and vegetables, and limits fatty, sugary and salty foods. Improving your diet can boost your liver function, slow cirrhosis and strengthen your immune system, so it’s equipped to fight the hepatitis virus. Be wary of fad diets -- if you lose too much weight too quickly, you may cause more harm to your liver.
Watch Your Alcohol and Recreational Drug Use.
Drinking is damaging to everyone’s liver, so it's especially dangerous for a person with hepatitis C to drink alcohol. Alcohol can lead to a host of liver problems including cancer, cirrhosis and liver disease, and can make treatment less effective.
There is no safe amount to drink with hep C, so it's best to avoid alcohol completely. Non-drinkers are more likely to have successful hepatitis C treatment than those who do drink.
For many people, choosing not to drink is easier said than done. Keep your intake in check by creating a support system of friends and family members, keeping alcohol out of your home and challenging yourself to have at least one dry day per week. Once you've conquered one dry day per week, it'll be easier to increase the time between drinks.
Watch Your Stress Levels.
Hep C doesn't just affect your body -- it can have a huge effect on your mental and emotional health, too. From battling stigma, to getting on the right path toward being cured, there are many opportunities for stress and anxiety to sneak in. To help manage worry, talk to a therapist or counselor, join a support group and educate yourself about hep C.
Stop the Cycle.
Some of the lifestyle tweaks you may make after you learn you have hepatitis won't just benefit your health--they’ll also benefit the health of those around you. Precautions such as bandaging cuts and sores, using a condom during sex and avoiding sharing toothbrushes or razors will help keep you and others healthy and virus-free.