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Hepatitis C and Fatigue

When you have hepatitis C, you're no stranger to fatigue. It's a top challenge for people living with this liver disease. A number of things can cause you to be tired, so it can be hard to pinpoint one reason. The hepatitis virus itself may be to blame. Liver damage causes fatigue, as do some of the treatments.

Is It the Virus, or the Treatment?

Research studies disagree about whether the hepatitis C virus itself causes fatigue. Some people have flu-like symptoms -- including fatigue -- when they are infected with the hepatitis C virus. But not everyone does. And some people with hep C whose liver tests are normal still say they feel tired all the time.

Two things are clear: People who have scarring of the liver, called cirrhosis, are more likely to have fatigue. And taking interferon, which is part of the standard treatment, almost always causes fatigue.

The good news is, if you go through treatment and are cured, your fatigue will get better.

If you're having trouble with daily activities because you're too tired, talk to your doctor about your treatment options. Newer drugs can sometimes be added to interferon therapy to wipe out the virus more quickly, so you don't have to deal with side effects for so long.

Depression Can Cause Fatigue

Anyone with a long-lasting illness can get depression. Hepatitis C is no different. You may be angry, anxious, or sad about your health or the changes you've had to make in your life.

Or here again, the treatment you're getting for hep C may be causing problems. About 20% to 35% of people who take interferon and ribavirin to treat hepatitis C develop depression.

Your doctor can help. Tell him how you're feeling. He may prescribe an antidepressant. He can also help you find a therapist or support group where you can talk to others who are facing the same issues.

Fatigue-Fighting Tips

Pace yourself. You may have days when you feel fine, and other days when you are just too tired to do things you normally do. Listen to your body, and give yourself some downtime when you need it.

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