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HCV and Road Trips

HCV and Road Trips

Before the Road Trip

For many, the idea of hitting the open road sounds exciting and freeing. It can be seen as an opportunity to get out of the monotony of life, leave the daily minutia behind, and experience new and even distant lands. Some choose to travel on their own, loading only the necessities into their cars and taking off. Others choose to gather their closest pals and hop in the car together. In either case, it can be easy for a person to get caught up in the excitement and become so focused on the music, the snacks, and the open road that they hop in the car and assume they can pick up anything they need along the way. This may be true for those seeking a bathing suit or a new type of chips, but for people taking hepatitis C medication, the excitement and freedom must also include some basic preparations.

Many doctors do not recommend a change in environment or daily routine until at least 10 days after beginning hepatitis C antiviral medication and any additional medicines. This allows the patient to become adjusted to the routine and to the drug(s) while being near their doctor enough to schedule an appointment in case of any emergency or drug reaction. In addition, many doctors are unable or unwilling to prescribe additional medication dosages in advance. This means that any trips must bring the patient back in time for a medication refill. Since road trips come with the additional risks of issues with the vehicle or weather delays, it is important to consider whether it is wise to return on the last few days of a prescription before a refill is required.

During the Road Trip

While on the road, it can be easy to forget the daily routines of a person’s regular life. Mealtimes may be rooted not on when the office takes a break, but on when the car needs more gasoline. Meals may be focused not on typical grocery shopping habits but on which rest stops have snacks or which diner is open and near the hotel. While this may be part of the fun of the road trip, it can be tougher to remember the requirements of one’s hepatitis C medication and treatment plan. If you think this may be difficult for you, you may decide to set a phone alarm to remind you of times when you need to take your medication. It may also be wise to pack healthy fruits and snacks to ensure that you are not taxing your liver and kidneys due to unhealthy eating. In addition, it is important to remember to abstain from alcohol throughout the trip and during the entire hepatitis C treatment process, as alcohol lowers the efficacy of most antiviral medications and it can encourage the virus to replicate, both of which undermines your body’s fighting the virus.

In addition, it can be important to consider that the medications and the virus may cause your body to react differently than you are used to. This may mean that sunburns are more likely or quicker to occur, requiring more frequent applications of sunscreen. It may mean that you become tired more easily, requiring others in the car to do more of the driving or for you to take more frequent stops or even plan to drive fewer hours per day toward your destination. Some may experience nausea which may be difficult for moments when it is your turn to ride in the passenger or backseat of the vehicle. Others may have gastrointestinal issues, including constipation or diarrhea. In these cases, it is important to check with your doctor or pharmacist before taking over the counter medications to ensure that nothing interacts with your hepatitis C medication. It may also require a conversation with your car-mates so they understand that you may need to stop more frequently for restroom breaks.

After the Road Trip

Some doctors may wish to have a phone conversation or office visit with you upon your return, in order to discuss how the medication affected you during your travels, if at all. Others may wish to find out whether you experienced any side effects from the medication or whether the treatment plan may need to be adjusted based on any liver or kidney pain or due to the consumption of alcohol during your trip. While these questions may seem overbearing after returning from a lighthearted trip on the open road, it is important to continue to treat your hepatitis C virus as per your treatment plan, no matter how quickly it brings you back to reality after your trip.1-3

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

  1. Hepatitis C - Lifestyle FAQs - NHS Choices. (2017). Retrieved 9 February 2017, from
  2. Prevention, C. (2017). Hepatitis C | Disease Directory | Travelers' Health | CDC. Retrieved 9 February 2017, from
  3. Traveling While On Treatment | Hepatitis C | American Liver Foundation. (2017). Retrieved 9 February 2017, from