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.

Poor Appetite

  • 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.