Managing Side Effects of Treatment
In the past when interferon was used, management of side effects was critical to have success with Hepatitis C treatment. Side effects are much less common now with the new Hepatitis C medications, but they can still happen. Fortunately, there are many steps you can take to manage them. It’s important to talk to your Hepatitis C provider to help you manage side effects and have a good experience on treatment.
Keep in mind that not everyone will experience the same side effects, nor are they necessarily severe. Developing a good support system before beginning therapy – with family, friends, and peer support group members – can help you cope with treatment-related side effects.
The following tips will help you manage some of the more common side effects of Hepatitis C treatment:
- Rest when you can.
- Modify your work schedule if possible.
- Get regular low-impact exercise such as walking.
- Eat well-balanced meals and drink enough fluids.
- Develop a regular routine; go to bed and get up the same time every day.
- Use relaxation techniques such as meditation, warm baths or massage; read or listen to music.
- Avoid exercise, caffeinated products, or heavy meals close to bedtime.
- Limit fluid intake about 2 hours before bedtime so you don’t have to get up to go to the bathroom.
- Take over-the-counter (such as Benadryl) or prescription medications as recommended by your provider.
- Eat smaller, more frequent meals.
- Eat whatever appeals to you most.
- Eat snacks high in protein (cheese, peanut butter); have protein drinks (like Ensure, Boost or Carnation Instant Breakfast).
Nausea and Vomiting
- Eat small meals.
- Avoid smells or foods that trigger nausea.
- Avoid spicy, greasy, sweet or acidic (like citrus) foods.
- If morning nausea is a problem, eat some dry crackers when first awakening.
- Try drinking ginger ale or ginger tea.
- Take ribavirin with food.
- Take over-the-counter medication as recommended by your provider.
- Try the BRAT diet (Bananas, Rice, Applesauce, Toast) which will give you more soluble fiber.
- Avoid spicy or acidic foods.
- Drink enough fluids (6-8 glasses/day, non-caffeinated).
- Take over-the-counter medications like loperamide (Immodium) or psyllium (Metamucil) as recommended by your provider.
- Use a humidifier.
- Drink more water or non-caffeinated drinks.
- Suck on cough drops or sugar-free hard candy.
Rashes and Dry Skin
- Use gentle soaps (like Dove or Cetaphil).
- Avoid taking long, hot showers since that dries out your skin.
- Moisturize daily after showers with unscented lotion for dry skin.
- Use unscented laundry detergent for sensitive skin.
- Apply sunscreen when needed.
- Use over-the-counter hydrocortisone creams or other anti-itch medications as recommended by your provider.
- Rash could be a sign of an allergic reaction, which can become severe. If a rash develops, immediately report this to your Hepatitis C provider.
This page has been updated and medically reviewed September 2015.