Part 2: The Effects of Hep C
Last updated: May 2023
Editor's Note: Please note that hep C symptoms can be unique from person to person, and the following account represents only one perspective. Please see your doctor for treatment of any of these symptoms.
Today I will share ideas and ways that I personally found to beat some of the side effects of hepatitis C.
The side effects of hepatitis C: personal strategies and tips
As you read through these, please understand that I am not a doctor and would suggest to anyone having any of these side effects talk to their own doctor.
This is the most common and most frustrating part of having hepatitis C. You are tired all the time.
I found that if I separated my day out into four sections: morning nap, lunch nap, afternoon nap, and then bedtime, I managed this fatigue better.
When I took time out of my day to rest my eyes, my mind, and my body, I did better. I functioned much better.
I also had bad insomnia, for which I found my nights and early mornings were wide awake. That was causing me to be sleepy all day.
So, by taking short 10-20 min naps daily several times throughout my day, I was able to have a better sleep at night instead of long 2 hours naps during the day.
Even if you work, go to your car and set the seat back, and rest. Set a timer so you don’t oversleep and get in trouble at work.
Your skin changes with hep C. Mine broke out into tiny red dots all over my body.
They itched badly and they were not attractive when I wore shorts or dresses. The only thing I personally found to help was coconut oil.
Organic oil in a jar worked best for me. After baths or showers, I would coat my skin. Yes, I looked like a wet lizard until it soaked into my skin, but it soothed that itch. My dryness also went away as well.
This is the most serious of all the symptoms, as it could lead to coma. Your liver cannot filter out the toxins in your body well, so there is a potential chance that they could move to your brain.
You could be diagnosed as having Hepatic Encephalopathy. You must tell your doctor about it, as there is a medication you can take to help your liver filter these toxins.
Lactulose is the medication used to treat it. It is a syrup-like liquid you take several times a day, depending on your doctor's recommendation.
This medication does cause some loose bowels, but it is doing what your liver can’t. But it is important to take it.
By telling your doctor this as well, the lactulose can help bring this relief. However, if you do not have brain fog, a simple natural counter laxative will do the trick. Also, try to eat more leafy greens and fruits.
My eyes slowly began to lose focus, and things began to go blurry. I had regular eye appointments to make sure my vision was staying tracked and I was getting proper glasses, etc.
Change in appetite
I did not feel like eating much. When I did, I craved sugary things.
I ate only popsicles until I learned that the sugar in that excess was not good for my liver. So, I began to eat smaller meals several times a day.
These meals were made up of veggies, fruits, turkey, and chicken. It is recommended to limit red me and processed foods as those are harsh on the liver.
Yellowing of the skin and eyes
I personally did not have this very bad. I did have mild yellowing in the whites of my eyes, but my skin did not turn yellow.
I was directed to drink more water and stay in contact with my doctor.
No one likes the feeling of being bloated. First off, your pants start to be snug.
For me, the pressure in my upper stomach was causing me to be short of breath. Tell your doctor, as they can prescribe a diuretic to get the fluids off you.
All this must be done through your doctor. Do not just start trying over-the-counter things, as your liver might not be able to handle them.
This came on when the fatigue, brain fog, and everything came to a head. Having so many side effects can take a toll.
I found that keeping a journal helped ensure I got out into nature daily. Sitting outside getting fresh air, or going for a walk helps.
But, if you find you just can’t shake this, your doctor can suggest other options for you. However, many fighting a chronic illness will say it is difficult for many days to even have energy or feel good, so one will tend to get emotional.
Seek out a dentist as soon as you begin to notice fragile teeth and absolutely no ice chewing. This was my bad habit because I became anemic and started chewing ice daily.
Go to regular dental appts. My dentist gave me a special toothpaste that helped my sensitivity to hot and cold.
I have found in my journey with hep C that many suffer a sort of muscle deterioration. Muscle tone fades, your strength fades, and your muscles start hurt.
Because your liver struggles now to process protein, it is harder to maintain muscle definition. Protein is what keeps muscles strong.
I did add protein via veggies, nuts, chicken, eggs, and soybeans to my diet. By the time I learned this my muscle wasting already happened so to say it stopped it, I can’t say for sure nor do I claim it will prevent it.
Headaches and migraines
This, I personally have found, is brought on by sleep patterns. My diet and rest were the only things that truly worked for me. Tell your doctor about this. He/she may have the means to help.
Again, do not take a bunch of over-the-counter remedies without talking to your doctor first.
This one was a tough one for me. I was diagnosed with hep C in my late 30’s early 40’s.
My periods became so heavy that I had to see a doctor for that. This is partly what caused my anemia.
I was put on a low dose of hormones to cease the heavy bleeding. Then, it sent me into pre-menopause shortly after.
Now I don’t want to blame hep C for that, but I am sure it did not help it. I talked to many women who were also dealing with this same thing.
I had severe gallbladder and pancreas issues. I had to have my gall bladder removed and several bouts of pancreatitis.
This whole realm needs to be only directed by your doctor. I don’t have any special cures except learning to stay away from processed foods.
Fatty foods, greasy foods, and artificial stuff. The onset of pancreatitis and now, since I have personally gone through it I can tell the first signs it is about to begin.
The only thing I have been told by doctors is to do fasting. This gives your pancreas time to settle back down.
I was diagnosed with high protein in my urine. I had to be followed up with a renal team for about three years till after my cure.
Again, hep C can affect different parts of your body, so talk with your doctor as your kidneys are so delicate and need protection.
Joint and muscle pain
This was my worst issue past the fatigue, brain fog, and gastric issues. There was nothing my doctor could do but offer advice to rest and use heat pads.
I found a quick relief and to this day I still do it daily. I keep a small throw blanket at all times in my dryer. I heat it on high and wrap my legs in it.
Put another one in, and that is heating up while this one is soothing my legs and muscles. After my female issues subsided, I was able to take nightly warm baths. I do this I do every night.
I take my bath (with lavender essential oil) and soak for about 20 minutes. Then get out and wrap my legs in the blankets.
When you experience any of these symptoms, you must tell your doctor and seek out his/her advice. Again, these are just ways I personally found to cope with the effects of hep C.
Also, refrain from all alcoholic beverages. Your liver is already under a huge attack and does not need added stress that will harm it.
Please communicate with your doctor and find solutions. There is no reason anyone needs to be suffering to a great intense.
I hope this helps, and know that you may only have a couple of symptoms and what was bad for me or others you may not experience.
Keep up the good fight!