What Hepatitis C Patients Need During Treatment
Beginning hepatitis C treatment can make you feel like you are about to climb a mountain. It is daunting, yet you know your goal is to reach the summit and get cured.
During treatment, patients need:
- Information from their doctors about their condition, what tests they need, and when tests are going to be done during and after treatment.
- To know that they can contact their doctor, nurse, or specialty pharmacy if they have any questions or concerns about their condition, treatment side effects, or medication.
- To be informed about treatment side effects and if they occur, what medications can they take to relieve side effects.
- Encouragement and support from their medical team, family, friends, and support group.
Where are you in your treatment journey?
Hep C treatment length
The standard treatment length for hepatitis C is 12 weeks, but some treatment can be done in 8 weeks, depending on your liver condition, treatment history, and viral load. In rare cases, treatment may last for 24 weeks, depending on genotype, liver condition or associated medical conditions, viral load, and treatment history.
Common treatment side effects
Hepatitis C treatment today has fewer side effects than older treatments. Common treatment side effects are headache, fatigue, mild nausea, diarrhea, and insomnia.
The most reported side effects are headache and fatigue. Side effects are generally the most prevalent at the beginning of treatment and ease up. Some patients report headaches cleared with only mild fatigue during the remainder of the treatment. Fatigue can linger into recovery, but usually continues to lift. If this happens, don’t be alarmed, this is normal and will get better. Talk to your doctor and medical team about all treatment side effects of your experience.
Blood work to determine your viral load will be done prior to beginning treatment. Many doctors will do blood tests during treatment to check CBC and viral load, as well as physical exams, to monitor how you are doing.
A viral load blood test will be done 12 weeks after treatment ends to determine if the hep C virus is non-detected or detected. If you receive a non-detected viral load test, you are considered cured of hepatitis C.
Depending on your liver condition, you may need to follow up with your liver specialist either every 6 months to 1 year. If you have cirrhosis (severe scarring), you will need regular tests to monitor your condition.
Join a support group with others who understand what you’re going through. Support and encouragement are important in helping you get through treatment and recovery as well as your healing process.
Do you try to follow a liver-friendly diet?