So you’ve been diagnosed with hepatitis C, a virus that comes in a few different forms. Some are easier to cure than others, but the good news is, most people with hepatitis C can be cured.
Genotype, along with degree of liver damage, and whether or not you’ve been treated before, will determine which treatment options are available to you. Things to keep in mind in the weeks to come:
- This diagnosis can make you feel alone. You are not alone in being diagnosed; there are an estimated 3.2 million Americans diagnosed. There is a growing community of support available and it is important to know that many individuals contracted hepatitis C for a variety or reasons that were not their fault.
- There are a few reasons you might not be able to begin treatment immediately. You may need to undergo more tests before starting treatment. Your insurance company also has to approve all the medications you’ll take, and this may take time.
- Sometimes people do not have insurance or lack the ability to pay for the copays associated with treatment. Do not worry, though, as there are a number of resources available to help you.
- Until cured, you’re going to want to take some simple precautions to avoid spreading the virus. Hepatitis C is spread by blood-to-blood contact. If your blood comes in contact with anything, clean the area thoroughly with a bleach-based cleaning solution. Dried blood should be cleaned up as well, as the virus can live outside the body for at least 16 hours. Do not share personal care items, particularly razors, toothbrushes and nail clippers.
- There’s no time like the present to start making lifestyle changes for a healthy recovery from hepatitis C. You should take steps to stop drinking and smoking and to lose weight if recommended by your care team.
- Tiredness, fever, nausea or poor appetite, and muscle and joint pain are all common symptoms of hepatitis C. If you also experience yellowing of the skin and whites of the eyes, consult your physician immediately.
- Hepatitis C is typically treated using antiviral pills. Side effects are typically few and mild, so when you do start treatment, it’s shouldn’t disrupt your everyday life. You will have to take the medications every day and it can range from an 8 to 24 week period, depending on which type of hepatitis C you have, how damaged your liver is, and whether you’ve been treated for the disease before.
- Finding support before and during treatment can be critical. When you try to go through everything alone, you can easily feel confused and overwhelmed. Whether you find personal support or join a support group, reach out to get your questions answered, to voice your concerns, and to receive encouragement from others. You are not alone.