How Do You Get Hepatitis C?
The Dos and Don’ts of Hepatitis C Treatment
1.Don’ttake other medications unless you’ve talked to your doctor first.
Many drugs can interfere with your hepatitis C medications, so it’s important to tell your doctor exactly what you’re taking or thinking about adding to your regimen, says James J. Lee, MD, a gastroenterologist at St. Joseph Hospital in Orange, California. This includes medicines used for acid reflux, an enlarged prostate, birth control, high cholesterol, and seizures.
What’s more, some drugs can be hard on your liver, including over-the-counter ones such as acetaminophen. If you need treatment for more than one health condition, work closely with your doctor to determine the best methods.
2.Don’ttake vitamins and supplements without talking to your doctor.
Dietary supplements haven’t been shown to be effective treatments for hepatitis C, according to the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health, and, in fact, some of them may even have harmful side effects and interact poorly with medications. If you take vitamins or supplements, or are considering taking them for other health reasons, make sure your doctor knows. In some cases, your doctor may recommend a particular brand or suggest a different approach if the potential interactions or risks are too high.
3.Dofollow your doctor’s exact instructions for treatment.
For hepatitis C medications to be effective, they need to be taken as prescribed. Missing doses increases the risk of the virus becoming resistant to medications, according to the American Liver Foundation (ALF). If you have side effects that make it difficult to take your medication, share this information with your doctor so adjustments can be made to your treatment plan.
4.Docommunicate often with your doctor.
The treatment for hepatitis C has evolved over the years and may continue to change as new drugs come on the market, Dr. Lee says, which is why it’s so important to keep communicating with your doctor. Although you’ll be monitored often during treatment, speak up about any difficulties or side effects you’re experiencing. Physical exams and blood tests are only part of the treatment equation. Your personal experience adds vital information that your doctor will need to provide you with the best treatment.
Alcohol is processed through the liver as a toxin and can be a source of inflammation in your liver, just like hepatitis C. When you’re undergoing treatment, it’s counterproductive to drink alcohol, Lee says, because it blunts the immune response to the virus and increases the severity of liver damage, making the treatment less effective.
6.Dotalk to your doctor if you (or your partner) are pregnant or planning to become pregnant.
If you’re taking ribavirin to treat your hepatitis C, you should be aware that the drug carries a risk for birth defects, so it shouldn’t be used by pregnant women, women who plan to become pregnant, or men whose partner is pregnant or planning to become pregnant, Lee says. In fact, the risk of defects is so serious that two forms of birth control are recommended while a person undergoes treatment and for six months after treatment is finished, according to the American Association for the Study of Liver Diseases and the Infectious Diseases Society of America.
It’s also important to note that because ribavirin may be present in breast milk, women should avoid breastfeeding their baby while taking this medication. If you’re thinking about becoming pregnant or breastfeeding, talk to your doctor first.
7.Don’tbreathe in toxic fumes from paint, cleaners, or other harsh chemicals.
When you’re treating hepatitis C, it’s important to stay away from potential toxins that can harm your liver, Lee says. Exposure to fumes can damage your liver cells, leading to an accumulation of fats (steatosis), liver cell death, cirrhosis, and liver cancer, he says.
There’s a long list of potentially noxious chemicals and volatile organic compounds (VOCs), and some are common around the home and workplace, such as vinyl chloride (pipe sealer), carbon tetrachloride (some adhesives), methylene chloride (paint removers), and glycol ethers (glass cleaners, floor cleaners, oven cleaners), Lee says. VOCs can also be found in spot removers, fabric or leather cleaners, PVC cement and primer, paint stripper, glue removers, aerosol spray products for some paints, leather treatments, pesticides, and refrigerant from air conditioners.
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