≡ Menu

When Stuck with Old Hepatitis C Drugs

Help for Hepatitis C Treatment

Tips for Hepatitis C Treatment

A person living in another country with hepatitis C wrote to me saying that he was about to start treatment with peginterferon and ribavirin. He asked if I had any advice for him. Waiting for interferon-free medications was not an option for him. Here are some suggestions, for him and others who still need to use interferon and ribavirin:

  • Put yourself first. If ever this is a time to practice priorities, it is now.
  • Moderate, regular exercise is critical. Walking, swimming, bicycling, dancing, weight training, stretching, yoga, tai chi, Pilates, gardening, and playing with children or a dog are some good choices since you can do these throughout treatment. If it is raining, play music, move around, try dancing, or walk in place during commercials.
  • Assume you will have side effects. Learn how to manage them, and manage then early. It is easier to manage a side effect when it is mild, than it is to wait when it is severe.
  • Get support. There are good support systems on the Web, such as the Hep Forum.
  • Take naps. Drink coffee. Coffee is good for the liver.
  • Cultivate perspective – remind yourself that you are on powerful meds that are going to cure you.
  • If you have a female partner, rule out pregnancy prior to starting hepatitis C medications, and have a birth control plan. (Especially important for female patients)
  • Learn to deal with insomnia. Try keeping music, podcasts, and the radio by your bed to listen to. The night is a harsh companion, but distraction helps to reduce the frustration of not sleeping.
  • Make sure you have all pretreatment lab tests, including viral load and genotype tests.
  • Be sure you are up-to-date on your immunizations, including hepatitis A and B, flu, tetanus, shingles and pneumonia vaccinations. It is okay to get these during treatment if that is the earliest you can do at this.
  • Since these two hepatitis C medications may cause eye-related side effects, have a baseline ophthalmic exam before you start treatment.
  • Avoid alcohol and other chemical substances before, during, and after HCV treatment.
  • Devise a system for remembering to take your medication, and stick to it. Pill organizers help.
  • Use a calendar to write down all your appointments and reminders to get labs and refill prescriptions.
  • Keep a notepad and write everything down, even if you think you will remember it. Jotting down your errands, shopping list, and phone calls to make maximizes your chances of maintaining the structure of your life without the additional frustration that accompanies forgetfulness.
  • Use electronic devices, such as phone, computer, e-mail, or voicemail to remind you to take your medications, attend appointments, and refill prescriptions.
  • Organize your health records. Ask for copies of lab results and other tests, such as liver biopsy reports. Keep everything in one place, such as a notebook, file cabinet, computer, or a box. If you store information on your computer or mobile device, make sure you back it up.
  • Even if you aren’t cured, you are giving your liver a chance to heal. My liver biopsy went from stage 2 to stage 0 even though I relapsed after 48 weeks of peginterferon and ribavirin. Keep your eye on the prize, because the effort is worth it.
Please follow and like us:
{ 1 comment… add one }
  • LC March 13, 2015, 10:43 AM

    The old treatments are Rough to say the least. I’ve done three treatments for a total of four years. All Interferon/Ribavirin. Talk about feeling like dying?

Leave a Comment