Other Health Conditions with Hepatitis C: What to Watch Out For
As if having hepatitis C wasn’t enough of a burden, many of us have other health conditions that can make it even worse. Some of the symptoms may be a part of liver disease due to the virus. But what happens when you have other problems that are not even related to hep C? In that case, you need help managing hep C with other health conditions.
Concurrent conditions with hepatitis C
Studies have shown that those who have hep C are at a greater risk to get type 1 and type 2 diabetes.1 Because your liver regulates the sugar in your body, you can develop insulin resistance. That just means that the sugar in your body may not get into your system as quickly as it needs to. This creates imbalance. If you already have diabetes, you can get rid of the virus and settle your body down. If you do have diabetes, the dosage of hepatitis C treatment may need to be adjusted. Your insulin may change as well, at least until you finish treatment. The newer hep C medications make it easy- less pills with fewer side effects. Your doctor can guide you on hep C treatment with diabetes.
If you have had hep C for a long time, you may be at risk to develop heart disease. The virus replicates in the liver, but it puts a lot of pressure on all the other organs as well. There is an increased risk of high blood pressure when liver disease become advanced. Portal hypertension is a result of a really sick liver. My doctor suggested that I lower my exercising heart rate until after treatment. That meant slower walking instead of running to prevent varices bleeds. Eating only healthy fats can help reduce the burden on your heart. Regular, gentle exercise and a heart healthy diet are recommended before, and during, treatment.
If you have sores in your stomach, they may be a part of liver disease that stem from varices in your stomach. I had many in the top of my stomach, and they caused nausea and vomiting at times. Other types of ulcers may be caused by bacteria or by food allergies. Stress can make ulcers worse due to increased stomach acid. Your doctor can advise you about antacids or other types of nausea medications while you are on treatment. Many stomach problems can go away after clearing the virus.
Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease causes congestion and tightness in the lungs. It can be hard to get a deep breath due to restriction in the airways. Staying on track with medical treatment for COPD can help you while treating for hep C. Your doctor can monitor your hemoglobin and help you until you clear the virus. In the meantime, you can self-monitor oxygen and activity levels until you reach SVR.
Summing it up
Hepatitis C is a dangerous and invasive virus that breeds in your liver and can create inflammation in your whole body. If you already have diabetes, heart disease, stomach, or lung problems, they may get worse. Managing other health conditions with hepatitis C is not easy. After you clear the virus, you can then focus on taking care of the rest of your body. Talk to your doctor about any fears you may have. In my personal experience, everything gets a whole lot easier after hep C is gone.
Does reading hep C patient stories aid you in your journey?