Hepatitis C is a sneaky virus. About 80% of infected people don't have any symptoms of the virus, and their liver shows only a little damage. Many of these people are diagnosed with hepatitis C after showing abnormal liver enzymes on routine blood tests. Other people -- about 5% to 20% -- develop cirrhosis after having the hepatitis C infection for 20 or 30 years. This is when the normal functioning liver is replaced by scar tissue. A smaller number of people develop liver cancer after infection...
Other viruses that damage the liver, such as hepatitis A or B, are especially dangerous to people with hepatitis C. Your doctor may recommend that you get vaccinated to protect yourself from these viruses.
Other illnesses can also cause special problems for people with hepatitis C. HIV can weaken the immune system and allow hepatitis C to progress quickly. If you have multiple sexual partners, you need to use condoms. Condoms not only protect your partners from getting hepatitis C, but also protect you from other STDs.
Get Enough Sleep if You Have Hepatitis C
People with hepatitis C often have a hard time sleeping, especially during treatment.
"I think insomnia is an underreported side effect of treatment," says David Thomas, MD, professor of medicine at Johns Hopkins School of Medicine in Baltimore. "A lot of patients are embarrassed to ask about it because they think it's trivial."
But not getting enough sleep can have a big impact. Alan Franciscus, executive director of the Hepatitis C Support Project in San Francisco, says that many of the vague symptoms of hepatitis C, such as fatigue, are also symptoms of not getting enough sleep. Since the two conditions go hand in hand, they can compound your symptoms.
There's no special cure for insomnia caused by hepatitis C or its treatment. Franciscus recommends common sense techniques such as taking relaxing baths and not exercising or eating too close to bedtime.
Sleep medication can help, too. Thomas often recommends drugs like Ambien for those people suffering from insomnia.
Be Careful With Medications, Drugs, and Alcohol
Your liver breaks down and filters out substances from your bloodstream. Hepatitis C can reduce your liver's ability to do this. As a result, medications, herbs, drugs, and alcohol may stay in your system longer and have a more powerful effect. Some substances pose the risk of serious liver damage, especially for people with hepatitis C.