Hepatitis C Management—Living Positively, Being Well
Controlling stress is a major factor in managing hepatitis C (HCV) and maintaining overall good health. Living with a chronic disease is stressful. Many people report “flare-ups” (periods of increased symptoms) following episodes of stress. Exercise, meditation, and good time management can all help reduce stress. Try to maintain a realistic picture of your health while keeping a positive attitude. Understanding the severity of your liver disease is an important part of having a realistic picture of your condition.
Fatigue and low energy levels are common symptoms in people with HCV. Learn your limits and do not overextend yourself. When you plan activities, allow time in between for relaxation or naps. Remember that your health is important—learn to say “no” to friends and family who have unrealistic expectations about your energy level.
Plan activities well in advance and try to make realistic work and play schedules. Use a daily planner to help with organizing and remembering activities. Consult your planner regularly when making appointments and scheduling daily tasks. Don’t forget to include restful activities.
Meditation and Prayer
Meditation and prayer can be useful tools very helpful to manage and live well with hepatitis C or any chronic illness. They can reduce stress and help you maintain a healthy outlook on life. Meditation is simple and easy to learn.
Moderate exercise is highly recommended for all individuals who are not in an acute or end-stage phase of hepatitis C. Exercise can help reduce stress, maintain a healthy weight, and promote overall good health and fitness. However, too much exercise can lead to hepatitis C flare-ups (increased symptoms). If this is a concern, select low impact types of exercise such as walking and swimming. Slowly increase your workouts until you reach the desired level. Always check with a healthcare provider before starting any exercise program.
Many people with HCV feel isolated and find it difficult to cope with the effects of living with a chronic illness such as hepatitis C. A support group can offer a safe place to discuss the emotional issues surrounding hepatitis C. Furthermore, the information shared by peer members can be helpful in making important decisions about a wide variety of issues. It is highly recommended that you join a support group while undergoing HCV treatment. Support group information can be found on the Hepatitis C Support Project website or by contacting the organizations listed here.
The Internet contains a wealth of information, both good and bad. Always check the sources of the information you find. Look for dates and references. Challenge any information you believe is in error. Be skeptical of websites that contain misleading information. Remember that not all the information you find on the Internet is correct, and if something sounds too good to be true, it probably is. Talk to your medical provider regarding any information you are unsure of or concerned about. Common sense can take you a long way! Visit the Hepatitis C Support Project website for recommended websites.
Self-Help Tip: Staying Healthy
- See your healthcare providers for regular check-ups—make sure to tell your healthcare provider about any problems or unusual symptoms.
- Eat a healthy and balanced diet that includes a lot of vegetables and fruit—try to stay away from too much sugar and fat.
- Rest when you are tired—try to find time for relaxation.
- Exercise regularly with activities like walking.
- Protect your liver by getting vaccinated against hepatitis A and hepatitis B if you have not been previously infected.
- Cut down or stop drinking alcohol—if you can’t stop get some help.
- Be careful when using over-the-counter drugs such as Tylenol and ibuprofen—never mix with alcohol with any medication.
- Join a support group to talk with and learn from others who have been in the same situation.
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