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Your liver is like your body's chemical processing plant. One of its many jobs is to filter or break down anything you take into your body. If you have hepatitis C, though, it may not work as well as usual. Things may stay in your system too long and affect you more strongly, or they may injure the organ.

To avoid problems, you might need to change what you eat and drink and the kinds of supplements and drugs you take.

Alcohol, Illegal Drugs, and Cigarettes

Don't drink any alcohol unless your doctor says it's OK. It can speed up damage to your liver cells.

Street drugs in general are no good for your liver. For example, marijuana leads to faster liver scarring. And using a needle to inject substances can raise your risk of getting re-infected with hepatitis C.

If you're a smoker, you need to quit. It can raise the risk of liver cancer. Talk to your doctor about ways to break the habit.

Medications and Liver Care

If you have cirrhosis (liver scarring) from hepatitis C, you need to be very careful about the medications you take.

Here are some things to avoid:

Whatever stage of hepatitis C you have, follow these guidelines to avoid causing damage to your liver from medications:

  • Share a list of all your prescription and over-the-counter drugs with all your doctors.
  • Make sure all your doctors know you have hep C.
  • Take as few medications as possible.
  • Carefully read the ingredient list of over-the-counter drugs. Acetaminophen is in many cold and flu medications and in most painkillers labeled "non- aspirin."
  • Never take more of a medication, or for a longer period of time, than your doctor recommends.

Supplements, Herbs, and Liver Care

Talk to you doctor before taking any supplements if you have hepatitis C. Some of them may cause severe liver injury.