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Managing Hepatitis C

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Be Careful With Medications, Drugs, and Alcohol continued...

Common painkillers and cold remedies with aspirin and acetaminophen ( for example,Tylenol) can be toxic to people with damaged livers, especially when taken with alcohol. Even large doses of vitamins -- such as vitamins A and D -- can be harmful. Many herbal remedies also pose a risk.

"I think we have to be very careful with herbal remedies," says Franciscus. "They can be powerful medicine, and some of them can do real harm."

If you have hepatitis C, don't assume that over-the-counter medications are safe for you. Never take any drugs, supplements or alternative medicines before talking to your doctor.

If you're a smoker, try to quit, Franciscus says. Obviously, you should not be using illegal drugs. If you are, get into a treatment program.

Learn to Relax

Living with a chronic illness can be tough, and so can the treatment for hepatitis C. It's easy to let your anxieties overcome you. For people undergoing treatment, depression is always a risk. 

To combat anxiety and depression, exercise regularly. Exercise helps your state of mind as much as your body. Franciscus also recommends trying out some relaxation and massage techniques. There isn't any scientific evidence that these approaches will help, he says, but he's seen many people who have benefited from them.

Also, do the commonsense stuff. Don't isolate yourself. Go out with friends. Do things you enjoy. Don't let your anxieties about hepatitis C keep you from doing the things you've always done.

Hepatitis C and the Big Picture

Most people with hepatitis C live long lives. Many don't have symptoms for decades, if ever. It's important to remember this. Being diagnosed may even have a positive effect on your life.

"Getting diagnosed is a life-altering event for most people," says Franciscus. "But often that's true in a positive way. It helps people look at their lives and their health and figure out what's really important."

You may find that being diagnosed with hepatitis C can inspire you to live a healthier and more fulfilling life, both physically and emotionally.

WebMD Medical Reference

Reviewed by David Zelman, MD on September 23, 2014
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