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5 Strategies for Sticking to a Hep C Treatment Plan

Give yourself the best chance of being cured of hep C by sticking to your treatment plan.

5 Strategies for Sticking to a Hep C Treatment Plan

To give yourself the best chance of being cured of hep C, you must follow your treatment regimen as strictly as possible. This means taking your hep C medication exactly as prescribed.

While this may sound simple, it can be challenging for a number of reasons. Hep C medications must be taken every single day, and ideally at the same time each day, and some medications require multiple doses per day. A typical course of treatment for hep C lasts between 8 and 12 weeks—and in some cases, as long as 16 or 24 weeks.

Skipping doses or stopping a course of treatment early can have consequences, including the treatment becoming less effective—meaning, it may not cure the hep C infection—and the infection becoming resistant to that particular treatment. If a hep C infection becomes resistant to a hep C medication, a person will need to start over with a different hep C medication. The virus may be more difficult to cure, treatment will be much more expensive, and meanwhile, the infection will still be active inside the body, causing further damage to the liver.

Here, we look at tips and strategies to help you stay on track with hep C treatment and give yourself the best chance of being cured.

Work with your healthcare provider
Having an open, honest line of communication with your healthcare provider is one of the best things you can do when being treated for any illness. Prior to starting treatment, bring up any concerns you have about your ability to adhere to the full course of therapy—for example, your ability to take medication consistently due to work schedule, or the cost of the medication. Addressing these concerns as early as possible can help prevent issues later.

Be clear about medication instructions
When talking to your healthcare provider, make sure you have a full and accurate understanding of when and how your medications need to be taken. Some medications must be taken with food, some require several doses each day, some may be recommended at certain times during the day.

Set reminders
Many people miss doses or fall off a treatment regimen simply because they forget to take their medication. This is true of hep C medications as well as medications for many other health conditions and illnesses. It is important to use cues and reminders to help you remember when to take your medication and keep track of your doses. The best reminders are easy to see and difficult to ignore. Examples of reminders include:

  • Reminders or alarms on a phone, watch, or virtual assistant.
  • Pill containers labeled with the days of the week.
  • Keeping your medication in a spot where you will see it each day.
  • A note or visual reminder left in a spot where it will be difficult to miss.
  • Pairing your medication doses with specific activities, such as brushing your teeth.

It is recommended to use more than one reminder. For example, your primary reminder may be an alarm on your phone, but a note left in an obvious place—such as near your toothbrush—will help you remember to take your medication in the event that your phone is misplaced or has run out of battery.

Pay attention to side effects
During treatment, communicate to your healthcare provider about any side effects or possible drug interactions you may be experiencing. Side effects can make it difficult to continue with treatment, but your healthcare provider may be able to help you find ways to cope with side effects in order to continue. If you are experiencing side effects, do not stop taking your medication unless directed to by your healthcare provider. Always inform your healthcare provider of any and all medications you are taking, including over-the-counter medications and supplements.

Plan head for disruptions
Taking medication is easier when life follows a consistent, day-to-day schedule. It gets more challenging when that schedule is disrupted by things like travel or social engagements. Keep a calendar of what’s ahead, and plan ahead about when you will take your medication on the days where your routine changes. Also be prepared for unexpected disruptions, such as losing your house keys, car trouble, or inclement weather.

Medically reviewed in November, 2019.

Sources:
UpToDate. “Patient education: Hepatitis C (Beyond the Basics).”
American Liver Foundation. “Treating Hepatitis C.”
MedicalNewsToday. “What are the best hepatitis C drugs?”
Vincent Lo Re, MD, MSCE. “Addressing Adherence Prior to Initiating HCV Treatment.” Hepatitis C Online. May 31st, 2018.
Hep. “Managing Hepatitis C Treatment Side Effects.”

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