Managing Drug Side Effects
The most common side effects of current HCV therapies include fatigue, headache, nausea (sick to the stomach), dry skin, anxiety, and rash. In the clinical trials of Harvoni and Viekira Pak the side effects were generally mild to moderate.
Some physical symptoms may be reduced with low doses of ibuprofen or acetaminophen (Tylenol). Be cautious, however, since high doses of acetaminophen can be toxic to the liver. Never mix acetaminophen or any medication with alcohol.
People experiencing anxiety, irritability, or depression may be helped with mild tranquilizers or anti-depressants.
Check with your doctor before taking any of these types of medications.
The key to managing treatment-related side effects is to know what to expect and to treat them as soon as they occur. Report any serious side effects to your medical provider as soon as possible so they can be treated before they become severe enough to require dose reduction or treatment discontinuation. For some people, physical side effects are worse when the medications are started and diminish over time. There are many simple tips to help alleviate some of the less serious side effects of hepatitis C treatment including:
- Drinking plenty of fluids (without caffeine or alcohol); it is especially important to drink water or clear fruit juices (apple, cranberry, or grape).
- Exercising is one of the most important components of health maintenance, and this remains true during therapy. Physical activity helps you to stay positive and focused and improves well-being. Moderation is the key to physical activity. Some good choices for exercise include stretching, walking, yoga, or any activity that you enjoy.
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