a lone bicycle is left on it's side outside in a neighborhood

A Family's Hep C Story: "My Child is Falling Apart"

Following some posts from my foundation-sponsored support group from parents who have a child fighting hep C, we get many inquiries about what symptoms might a child have with hep C

Having seen and known several dozen children now fighting hepatitis C, I have seen them fight all the same symptoms we adults are fighting. The only difference might be that if the child is very young, say 2-4 ish, he/she might not be able to express to the parent or doctor what they might are feeling. This can be difficult for a parent, not knowing how to comfort or help their little one.

How the child might act

A young mother reached out to me recently, explaining her son had been slowing down on extracurricular actives lately. Not wanting to ride his bike, which was the one thing he truly loved. His appetite is almost not there at all.  His happy go lucky demeanor has changed to agitated and weepy.

This left this mother at odds as to how and what she could do to help him. Her son sees his liver doctor regularly and is about to be signed up to begin treatment. She has been talking with several other mothers in this group and they have shared similar behaviors from their kids with hep C.

Common hep C symptoms

Hep C does not discriminate. This disease attacks the liver, regardless of age. If you see and read common side effects of hep C, this can help you understand what your child may be feeling:

  • Fatigue
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Muscle aches
  • Jaundice

With this said, many children are having some or all of these symptoms as adults. Being young and not knowing how to communicate these feelings, you may notice them acting out in frustration, sleeping more, or not wanting to eat. This is all normal, but as a parent, knowing this information can be super helpful in trying to help your child and also communicate this to his/her doctor.

Tips for parents

As with all adults fighting hep C, the best advice (coming from a person who fought hep c) is this: Share all this with your doctor immediately. Allow the child to rest more and maybe try more smaller meals more frequently, so the child is eating throughout the day instead of all at once in a big meal. This helped me.

If your child doesn't want to lie down and rest, one of the moms in our group suggested lying down with the child even to watch a Disney show. Being still will also aide in the fatigue. If your child is in school, share with the teacher the importance of your child getting down-time, maybe during recess or lunch.

The most important take away here is this: Your child is feeling all the same effects from hep C and the more you can read up and learn about this, the better equip you will be in comforting them. Hepatitis C is brutal, no matter your age. Knowledge and understanding together are the best remedy for any of us fighting this.

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