“Most of the important things in the world have been accomplished by people who have kept on trying when there seemed to be no hope at all.” ~ Dale Carnegie
One of the most frustrating symptoms of hepatitis C is brain fog. I lived with brain fog for more than 25 years, a condition that tested my hope like no other issue. This mental dullness interfered with every aspect of my life. We don’t know the exact cause of brain fog, but we do know that hepatitis C can infect the brain. Brain scans of hepatitis C patients showed clear differences when compared to the brains of healthy people,
Research also tells us that cognitive ability improves in patients who successfully clear hepatitis C with treatment. Hepatitis C patients who are cured say that it feels as if a cloud has lifted. I wanted this, because brain fog was hampering my life. The hope of a clearer brain was one of the main reasons why I tried hepatitis C treatment three times.
Last year I successfully cleared hepatitis C, and it feels like the lights are coming back on in my head. I still have murky days, but everyone does whether or not he or she has hepatitis C. Besides, I am 60 years old, and my non-hep C friends can’t recall actors’ names or movie titles any better than I can. If I am stressed, or I don’t get adequate sleep or exercise, brain fog rolls in. The difference between hepatitis C-induced versus the brain fog I get now, is that my mental dullness is easily fixed by a nap, physical activity, or meditation. When I had hepatitis C, brain fog was only mildly relieved when I tried to fix it.
However, any relief is better than none at all. The same tools that I use, also helped me when I had hepatitis C. There is nothing special about these tools—they are those shoulds we know about – we should eat better, we should exercise, and so on. However, when I got desperate enough, these shoulds became choices. Eventually the choices morphed in to habits, and now I don’t have to think about it as much—the shoulds happen automatically.
Sleep – Hepatitis C patients are at risk for sleeping disturbances. Poor quality or insufficient sleep interferes with brainpower. Try to get sufficient sleep most nights. How much sleep you need depends on the individual, but most people need 7 to 8 hours a night.
Exercise – Physical activity is the best brain boost there is. Regular daily exercise is best, and even a mere ten minutes can be beneficial. Make exercise fun, and you are more likely to do it. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention offers some fitness tips and guidelines.
Stress Reduction – Too much stress is unhealthy, and it feels lousy. Sometimes stress is unavoidable, but that doesn’t mean that you can’t do something about it. There are many stress reduction techniques, such as meditation and mindfulness practices. Find one that is right for you.
Diet – Eat a low fat, high fiber, low sodium diet. Include fruit, vegetables, and whole grains. Avoid trans and saturated fats. Choose lean animal or plant-based proteins, such as chicken, fish, beans, nuts, and seeds.
Laughter – There is one should that is sometimes overlooked but is fun, and that is laughter. The health benefits of laughter are numerous. Pleasure releases healthy chemicals in our brains, and let’s face it, laughing feels good. Laughter needs no prescription and you can start right now.
This post first appeared on Lucinda Porter’s blog at Every Day Health, Navigating Hepatitis C