Living with a chronic disease like hepatitis C can be depressing and nerve-wracking. Coping with the side effects of treatment isn't easy either. But another difficult aspect of having the disease is how it can interfere with your relationships.
"People with hepatitis C experience a lot of stigma," says Alan Franciscus, executive director of the Hepatitis C Support Project in San Francisco. "It can be really hard."
You may avoid talking to friends or family about the disease because you're worried...
Your doctor will ask questions about your symptoms and where you've eaten or traveled. You may have blood tests if your doctor thinks you have the virus. These tests can tell if your liver is inflamed and whether you have antibodies to the hepatitis E virus. Having these antibodies in your blood proves that you have been exposed to the virus.
How is it treated?
Hepatitis E goes away on its own in most cases. To help yourself get better faster:
Slow down. Cut back on daily activities until all of your energy returns. As you start to feel better, take your time in getting back to your regular routine. If you try to do it too fast, you may get sick again.
Drink plenty of water to avoid dehydration. Fruit juices and broth are other good choices, if you can tolerate them.
Eat a healthy mix of foods. Even though food may not appeal to you, it's important for you to get good nutrition.
Don't drink alcohol or use illegal drugs. They can make liver problems worse.
Make sure your doctor knows all the medicines you're taking, including herbal products. Don't start or change any medicines without talking to your doctor first.
If your symptoms are severe or if you're pregnant, talk to your doctor. You may need to be treated in a hospital.
How can you avoid hepatitis E?
Hepatitis E is more common in developing countries in Central and Southeast Asia, the Middle East, Africa, and Central America. If you visit these countries, you can lower your chances of getting the disease if you:
Avoid drinking water and ice that you don't know is clean, and avoid eating uncooked shellfish.
Avoid uncooked fruits or vegetables that you haven't peeled or prepared yourself.
Wash your hands after using the toilet, changing a diaper, or preparing or eating food.
Discourage your children from putting objects in their mouths.
Wash dishes in hot, soapy water.
There is currently no approved vaccine for hepatitis E.
Don't donate blood if you've had any kind of viral hepatitis (hepatitis A, B, C, D, or E) since you were 11 years old.