Studies have shown that consumption of alcohol can accelerate liver disease progression. Most experts recommend that people living with HCV and other liver conditions should avoid alcohol since there is no known safe level of use. Many drugs (whether prescription, over-the-counter, or recreational) must be processed by the liver, and people with hepatitis C should avoid recreational drugs and tobacco. Check with your doctor before taking over-the-counter or prescription medications because some can cause liver toxicity, especially in people with an existing liver disease. Certain herbal remedies have also been shown to damage the liver.

Environmental Toxins

Everything you breathe or absorb through the skin must be filtered by the liver. Fumes from paint thinners, pesticides, and aerosol sprays can damage your liver and should be avoided whenever possible.


People with HCV are strongly advised to get vaccinated against hepatitis A and B if they are not already immune. Severe HAV and HBV infections have been reported in people who already have HCV. The hepatitis A vaccine consists of two doses administered within a six-month period, and the hepatitis B vaccine typically requires three doses within a six-month period. Both vaccines are made from killed viruses and are considered safe and effective. There is also a combination HAV/HBV vaccine (Twinrix). Twinrix was initially approved with the same dosing schedule as the single HBV vaccines, but the FDA has also approved an accelerated dosing schedule for Twinrix of three shots within 30 days followed by a booster shot after one year.


Self-Help Tip: Choosing a Medical Provider or Specialist

Even if you are satisfied with your current medical provider you should consider the following:

  • Does the provider seem knowledgeable and experienced about hepatitis C? Will he or she refer you to a specialist?
  • Does the provider listen and communicate well?
  • Does the provider explain complicated medical terms and answer all of your questions?
  • Does the provider give you his or her full attention?
  • Do you trust the provider to help you make important medical decisions?


 Next: Hepatitis C Management — Living Positively, Being Well


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