Summer With Hepatitis C: Managing Side Effects in the Heat
Last updated: June 2023
It's the heat of the summer. The temperatures are soaring, with record heat across the country. News stations are reminding people to stay hydrated, to stay inside during peak hours, and to check on the elderly and those with health conditions. But what does all this heat mean for people with hep C? We share tips for having a healthy and enjoyable summer with hepatitis C.
Sensitivity to light
Like several other health conditions, hepatitis C can increase your sensitivity to sunlight (known as photosensitivity).1 This is especially true if you are on treatment for your hepatitis C.2 Certain treatments may increase your sensitivity to sunlight, so consider asking your doctor if you need to decrease your sun exposure during treatments. If so, take this warning seriously, protect yourself with sunscreen, hats, long sleeves, and limit the amount of time you are exposed to direct sunlight. If undergoing treatment, be aware of your medications and the warnings associated with them.
If you are out in the sun enjoying a family outing or such, seek out shade frequently, rest, and hydrate.
Because I'm fighting end stage liver disease, sun and heat are not my friend. First off, I find that my own body has a very difficult time regulating my body temperature. I also retain more water in the extreme heat days, causing edema in my legs and ascites in my body cavity. When this happens, more pressure is put on my body, leading to pain in my joints.
In the summer, my swelled legs seem more painful than in cooler months where the swelling is not so intense. Personally, I do not take any sort of medication where there are warnings against direct sun exposure, but I do tend to react more quickly to the sun. For example, I get pink more quickly (sunburn).
Summer with hepatitis C: hydrate, hydrate, hydrate
During these hot months of summer, we must must mustdrink more water and stay well-hydrated. Whether you are sitting at home in the coolness of an air conditioner or in your car driving around, have that bottle of fresh water with you.
If you find plain water boring, mix it up! Here are some of my favorite refreshers that I make to stay hydrated: Water with lemon or lime; water with fresh fruit, such as strawberries or blueberries; and water with cucumber and ginger.
To sum up summer...
- Limit time in direct sun
- Drink more water
- Seek shade
- Wear sunscreen and protective clothing
- Enjoy this time of year!