Patients often ask. “How long does it take to feel normal after hepatitis C treatment is done?” Like so many questions, the answer is, “It depends.” It depends on what you were treated with, for how long, how you did during treatment, and if you responded to the medication.
In the old days, back when genotype 1 patients used 48 weeks of peginterferon and ribavirin, it could take anywhere from a few months to a year or more before one was back on solid footing. Some people felt much better in a month; some took more than a year. In general, most were somewhere in the middle.
Treatment has changed dramatically since then. Some people aren’t taking interferon, or are only taking it for 12 weeks. Some patients aren’t taking ribavirin. Patients taking sofosbuvir and simeprevir often feel great during treatment, and aren’t even asking questions about the post-treatment experience.
I have been through three treatments: interferon in 1997, peginterferon plus ribavirin treatment in 2003, and a twelve-week clinical trial using sofosbuvir, ledipasvir and ribavirin in 2013. I bounced back within a month the first time. It took a few months after the second treatment. Sometimes I took a step backwards, which is quite typical.
The last treatment was without interferon, and my recovery was clearer. Nothing lingered. However, there was a huge difference between the last treatment and the previous two. Not only was interferon out of the equation, but I was also not fighting the return of hepatitis C. Who knows how many of my previous recovery symptoms were residual medication effects or hepatitis C reclaiming my liver.
The recovery phase of hepatitis C treatment is not well researched, and most of what we know comes from the patient community. Let’s continue to talk about this with each other. Anecdotes aren’t evidence, but since we don’t have facts, we need to hold each other up with our stories. Our stories are often the springboard for future research.