Anemia and Hepatitis C Treatment
Last updated: August 2020
Has the hepatitis C treatment left you breathless? I’m not talking about the breathless rush you get when your crush walks by. I’m talking about the kind that makes your lungs feel crushed and you can barely breathe? That usually means one thing: You’ve got anemia. It’s not a long term thing. It will go away after you finish treatment. But for now, here are some things you need to know about anemia and hepatitis C treatment.
Be on the lookout for these symptoms:
- Shortness of breath
- Sick tummy
- Rapid or shallow heart rate
If you have any of these signs, it is your body telling you to slow it down.
What to do if you suspect anemia:
- Ask your doctor about your complete blood count (or CBC).
- Your Red Blood Cells or RBC are what carries oxygen in your body.
- Your Hemoglobin or HGB is the number your doctor looks at.
- The lab techs actually count the number of Red Blood Cells that you currently have in your bloodstream. That number = your Hemoglobin. (They look to see if you’re outside the normal range. For women, the range is 11 – 16 gm/dl. For men, the range is 12 – 18 gm/dl.)
If you have anemia:
- There are medications you can take. They help bring your Hemoglobin count back up to the normal range.
- Most doctors prefer to wait and let you build your levels back up slowly. That helps your body to be stronger.
- For emergencies, a blood transfusion can be done.
- When you get signs of anemia, it is wise to look at what you can do to help your body.
- Eat a good diet that is rich in natural vitamins and minerals.
- Ask your doctor about taking an additional multivitamin. This is important if you don’t have a good appetite.
- Drink plenty of water.
- Rest when you are tired.
- Ask for help if you don’t feel good.
- Don’t push yourself too hard.
Remember, anemia is just a side effect of the medication you take for treating the hepatitis C virus. It is for a short period of time. Some of the drugs you take to kill the hepatitis C virus can bring on the anemia. It is not going to last for very long. As soon as treatment ends, your body will begin to catch up in a lot of areas. Building strong red blood cells is one of them.
The newer treatments are easier on your body. When I treated, the treatment caused my Hemoglobin to dump. Because the treatments lasted so long, my doctors rescued my anemia with drugs and blood transfusions. Now, most people are able to get through the entire treatment without needed any extra medications!
If you follow the guidelines listed above, you will be able to get through treatment and overcome the effects of anemia too. Soon you will be feeling strong and healthy again.