6 Ways to Live a Long, Happy Life With Hep C

Make these tweaks for better health. 

Updated on January 31, 2023

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While living with a chronic disease like hepatitis C may be challenging, there are plenty of strategies you can pursue to take control of your health and feel better. Try making these lifestyle tweaks to help alleviate symptoms of hep C and put yourself on the path toward a long, healthy life.

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Get tested

Hep C affects more than just your liver. There are several other health issues that can come along with hep C, possibly making your symptoms worse. For this reason, it's important to be tested for some of these common problems, including HIV, hypertension, diabetes, chronic kidney disease, and oral diseases. 

Remember that even if your test results comes back negative, you should take precautions. Talk to your healthcare provider (HCP) about how you can stay healthy and prevent development of these other conditions.

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Find a support system

Hep C is associated with many stigmas. People may be confused or misinformed about the condition, which can make it difficult for them to understand what you're going through.

Remember: You're not alone. You don't need to (and shouldn't) go through treatment by yourself. You can join a local support group to meet other people with hep C and talk about the physical and emotional difficulties you face. If you'd prefer to stay anonymous or can't find a group near you, you can find help through online groups.

Mental health is key to total wellness, so tackling emotional issues can help you stay healthy, despite physical troubles.

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Drink caffeinated beverages

If you enjoy a cup of coffee or tea each morning, it may be a habit worth maintaining. 

A review published in the World Journal of Hepatology in 2017 assessed over 40 studies on the protective effects of coffee on the liver. Multiple studies showed that the caffeine in coffee inhibits the hep C virus from replicating. Researchers also noted that coffee may help protect your liver from major threats, such as liver disease, fibrosis, cirrhosis, and cancer.

If your caffeinated beverage of choice is black tea or green tea, there’s even more good news—these teas contain compounds that can keep hep C virus from entering the cells. 

To get the most health benefits caffeinated beverages have to offer, take care to limit or avoid adding sugar or creamer. Sugar and other additives may increase the risk of weight gain and diabetes—two issues you will want to avoid if you have hep C.

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Be careful with supplements

Supplements such as milk thistle and licorice root—or even trendy detoxes—may sound like a healthy way to help your liver. They can be particularly attractive if you're waiting to receive treatment. But be careful, since these "natural" helpers could be dangerous.

Supplements may be risky because they aren't subject to the same regulations as prescription medicine. In fact, no dietary supplement has been shown to be effective for hep C, and some even have irreversible negative side effects. 

If you're still interested in trying some alternative therapies, be sure to talk to your HCP. Together, you can determine the best treatment plan for your personal health.

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Stop drinking alcohol

Based on available research, organizations such as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) strongly recommend that people with hep C reduce or abstain from drinking alcohol entirely to protect their liver. Even a little alcohol can stress the organ. A 2016 study published in the World Journal of Gastroenterology, for example, found that the people with help C who drank alcohol actually had more liver damage than those who did not drink alcohol. 

While one drink may seem harmless, the damage it can do to your already vulnerable liver is not worth it. Plus, it can prevent you from successfully treating your condition. 

There are plenty of strategies you can try to help you drink less: 

  • Keep fewer bottles of alcohol in your home.
  • Commit to at least one alcohol-free day per week and continue decreasing your intake from there.
  • Drink sparkling water in social situations where others are imbibing.
  • Practice polite ways to decline a drink if it's offered to you. 

If taking these steps doesn’t curb your drinking, it’s wise to seek help via medical services or even a program like Alcoholics Anonymous. Speak with an HCP for recommendations.

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Get treatment

One of the best ways you can reclaim your health from hep C is to follow your treatment plan. In fact, today’s hep C medications, such as direct-acting antiviral drugs, have initial cure rates between 95 to 99 percent.

But with insurance denials and potentially pricey meds, it can be easy to get lost in the treatment shuffle. Plus, you may have heard horror stories about the side effects of older treatments. 

The good news? You may be able to qualify for financial assistance and coupons from drug manufacturers. What’s more, newer hep C meds tend to have fewer and less intense side effects. Again, talk to an HCP for more information.

Slideshow sources open slideshow sources

Li HC, Lo SY. Hepatitis C virus: Virology, diagnosis and treatment. World J Hepatol. 2015;7(10):1377-1389.
Rotaru DI, Chisnoiu RM, et al. The Influence of Hepatitis C Virus Infection on ORAL Health-Related Quality of Life in Patients with Oral Lichen Planus. Int J Environ Res Public Health. 2021;18(17):9382. Published 2021 Sep 6.
Heath RD, Brahmbhatt M, et al. Coffee: The magical bean for liver diseases. World J Hepatol. 2017;9(15):689-696. doi:10.4254/wjh.v9.i15.689
Tanida I, Shirasago Y, et al. Inhibitory Effects of Caffeic Acid, a Coffee-Related Organic Acid, on the Propagation of Hepatitis C Virus. Jpn J Infect Dis. 2015;68(4):268-75.
Batista MN, Carneiro BM, Braga AC, Rahal P. Caffeine inhibits hepatitis C virus replication in vitro. Arch Virol. 2015 Feb;160(2):399-407.
Chowdhury P, Sahuc ME, Rouillé Y, et al. Theaflavins, polyphenols of black tea, inhibit entry of hepatitis C virus in cell culture. PLoS One. 2018;13(11).
Lin YT, Wu YH, et al. Green tea phenolic epicatechins inhibit hepatitis C virus replication via cycloxygenase-2 and attenuate virus-induced inflammation. PLoS One. 2013;8(1):e54466.
NIH: National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health. Milk Thistle. Last updated August 2020.
NIH: National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health. Licorice Root. Last updated August 2020.
NIH: National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health. Hepatitis C and dietary supplements. Published May 2018.
Novo-Veleiro I, Alvela-Suárez L, et al. Alcoholic liver disease and hepatitis C virus infection. World J Gastroenterol. 2016;22(4):1411-1420.
Xu HQ, Wang CG, et al. Effects of alcohol consumption on viral hepatitis B and C. World J Clin Cases. 2021;9(33):10052-10063.
NIH: National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism. Alcohol and Hepatitis C. Accessed January 31, 2023.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Hepatitis C Questions and Answers for Health Professionals. Last reviewed August 7, 2020.
American Association for the Study of Liver Diseases. Retreatment of Persons in Whom Prior Therapy Failed. Last update October 24, 2022.
Muga R, Sanvisens A, Jarrin I, et al. Hepatitis C infection substantially reduces survival of alcohol-dependent patients. Clin Epidemiol. 2018;10:897-905.
Fierer DS, Wyles DL. Re-treatment of Hepatitis C Infection After Multiple Failures of Direct-Acting Antiviral Therapy. Open Forum Infect Dis. 2020;7(4):ofaa095.
Mayo Clinic. Hepatitis C. August 31, 2021.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Recommendations for the Identification of Chronic Hepatitis C Virus Infection Among Persons Born During 1945–1965. August 17, 2012.

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