Some people who have hepatitis C don't notice a big difference in the way they feel. Others feel tired, sick, or depressed. The following are steps you can take at home that may help you feel better both physically and emotionally.
It is very common to feel tired if you have hepatitis C. If you feel tired, give yourself permission to do less and rest more. If possible, ask others to help out around your home or ask your employer for a shorter or more flexible work schedule.
Exercise if you feel up to it. Aerobic exercise can help you have more energy and may also improve depression. It is best to avoid any strenuous activities on the day after you receive peginterferon.8
Eat regular, nutritious meals
Sometimes people with hepatitis C have a hard time eating. You may have no appetite, feel nauseated, or have different tastes than you are used to. Even if you don't feel like eating, it's very important to eat small meals throughout the day. Some people have nausea in the afternoon. If this happens to you, try to eat a big, nutritious meal in the morning.
If you have cirrhosis, it may not be a good idea to eat salty foods or foods that are high in protein. If you want to know more about which foods to avoid and which foods are good to eat, ask your doctor about meeting with a registered dietitian to discuss a healthy eating plan.
Avoid alcohol and drugs
One of the most important jobs of your liver is to break down drugs and alcohol. If you have hepatitis C, one of the best things you can do is to avoid substances that may harm your liver, such as alcohol and illegal drugs. If you have cirrhosis, you also may need to avoid certain medicines.
If you use illegal drugs or drink alcohol, it is important to stop. Being honest with your doctor about your drug and alcohol use will help you deal with any substance abuse problems. If you don't feel that you can talk openly with your doctor, you may want to find a doctor you feel more comfortable with. If you want to stop using drugs or alcohol and need help to do so, ask your doctor or someone else you trust about drug and alcohol treatment options.
Because many medicines can stress your liver, talk to your doctor before you take any prescription or over-the-counter medicines. This includes herbal remedies as well.
If you have itchy skin, ask your doctor about taking nonprescription medicines, such as diphenhydramine (for example, Benadryl) or chlorpheniramine (for example, Chlor-Trimeton), to relieve itching. If you do take these medicines, be sure to follow the instructions and to stop using the medicine if you have any side effects.
Seek help for depression
You may feel angry or depressed about having to live with a long-term, serious disease. You may have a hard time knowing how to tell other people that you have the virus. It can be helpful to talk with a social worker or counselor about what having the disease means to you. You also may want to find a support group for people with hepatitis C. If you don't have a support group in your area, there are several on the Internet.
Depression may develop in anyone who has a long-term illness. It also can be a side effect of antiviral medicines for hepatitis C. If you are feeling depressed, talk to your doctor about antidepressant medicines and/or counseling. For more information, see the topic Depression.
Learn about the disease
Learning about hepatitis C may help you feel more in control of the disease. The more you understand, the better you can make decisions about treatment and lifestyle changes that may help you feel better, both physically and emotionally.