Holidays and Hepatitis C

Holidays and Hepatitis C

The fall and winter seasons often brings about the excitement of the impending holidays. For many, the holiday season begins with Thanksgiving. American holidays typically includes family gatherings and lots of foods and desserts. There may be cider or other specialized alcoholic beverages served with the meals. For most, these thoughts bring excitement. For those with hepatitis C though, there are specific concerns that need to be addressed in order to enjoy the holidays while maintaining one’s health.

Family

In some cases, family members are unaware of a person’s hepatitis C diagnosis. Although one’s medical issues are their own business, this can make the day complicated. Some people have visible signs of hepatitis C, which may include jaundice or exhaustion. Others may have visible side effects of the medication treatment, such as a rash or obvious signs of exhaustion. In addition, the experience of trying to hide this information from some family members while others are already aware can lead to undue stress. For example, if a partner or child is aware of the diagnosis and current treatment, it may be difficult to encourage them to keep this information secret. Over the course of the holiday or the full holiday weekend, attempting to hide medications and side effects can become overwhelming.

For those who decide to make their relatives aware of their diagnosis, they may want to anticipate the questions and concerns of their families. Although the patient may have come to terms with their medical history and current health, it is important to consider the fears and misconceptions of relatives who may have never learned much about the hepatitis C virus. It can be easy to become offended if someone makes judgments or assumptions, however this can be a time of education and compassion if the person is prepared beforehand. For those who feel unable or unwilling to spend the evening discussing how a person can become infected, how they were diagnosed, and what their treatment plan is, it may make more sense to write an email or to find a few updated websites and to send this information through email or even regular postal mail to relatives before the holiday gathering.

Food

During the meal, there may be numerous food dishes available for consumption. While everyone is generally aware of which are considered healthier and which are less so, making healthy food choices is crucial for the health of a person with hepatitis C. Often, the virus impacts the liver’s ability to function properly, which can cause other organs to struggle as well. This makes it vital for the person to be as healthy as possible, in order to give those organs as much of a break as possible. While fatty foods can be tasty, it may be a better decision to avoid the fattiest and unhealthiest foods and to instead choose some of the more nutritional options.

Some may find that their medication treatment has side effects that impact eating. Nausea and upset stomach are two of the more common side effects of many of the medications. In these cases, a person may choose to consume more bland foods in smaller amounts. White meat, mashed potatoes, and bread may be easier on the stomach then the fattier darker meat, greens, and gravy items. If nausea or upset stomach is consistently problematic, however, it is important to speak with your doctor about this so that your medications can be checked or anti-nausea medications can be prescribed in order to allow you to eat normally.

Drink

Although some see the holiday season as a great time to consume warm or seasonal alcoholic beverages, it is important for those with hepatitis C to avoid all alcoholic drinks. Research shows that alcohol causes the virus to replicate more rapidly as well as impeding the medication’s ability to work effectively. This means that alcohol can actually cause the virus to become stronger while making the medication weaker. If this occurs, the body can really suffer and it can set the treatment timeline back significantly.

Currently, there is a trend toward non-alcoholic beverages that are still fun and festive. Craft sodas and blended drinks (sometimes called “mocktails,” with thousands of recipes available online) can be found at many supermarkets, as well as in many of the alcohol and wine stores nationwide. If you are concerned that such beverages won’t be available at your gathering, you can always bring it with you as a hostess gift or your contribution to the meal. Those who prefer to keep their diagnosis secret may choose to drink non-alcoholic beverages with a stir straw, in order to give the appearance of drinking alcohol or they may give an excuse for not drinking, such as the desire to lose weight, a potential drug interaction with a new type of vitamins being taken, or the need to take the night off after drinking a lot the previous night. Whatever option feels most comfortable for you, it is important for those who typically consume alcohol at these events to plan ahead so that the temptation in the moment does not lead to making a dangerous decision.1-5

This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The HepatitisC.net team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.
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