Looking after your health and your liver
Taking care of your overall health, including your liver’s health, is important when you have chronic hep C. Speak with your doctor before making any changes like trying any over-the-counter remedies or changing your diet.
You should be eating the same diet that everyone needs to follow for good health. Try to eat a variety of nutritious foods each day, including fruits and vegetables, lean protein (e.g. meat, chicken, seafood, eggs), whole grain breads and cereals.
Limit or avoid alcohol
It is important that you reduce your alcohol intake.
Once infected with hep C, the main risk factor for developing cirrhosis and liver cancer is drinking alcohol. Compared to non-drinkers, regular alcohol consumption significantly raises the risk of developing cirrhosis and liver cancer from hep C. It is now known that alcohol use, even in socially accepted amounts, accelerates the course of liver disease.
If you have moderate liver fibrosis or severe liver damage (cirrhosis), then avoid alcohol completely.
Reduce your cannabis intake
Daily cannabis use has been shown to be associated with moderate to severe liver fibrosis (scarring).
If you are infected with hep C and have had a heavy alcohol or cannabis intake for more than a year, then you may need help to reduce or stop. Please speak to your doctor who can refer you to counselling services.
Only take drugs prescribed by your doctor
The liver processes most drugs, so only take those that your doctor prescribes. Remember to tell your doctor about any other over-the-counter medicines, herbal remedies or recreational drugs that you may also be taking. Some may damage your liver.
Social contact is ok
Hep C is spread through blood-to-blood contact – it’s is not spread through food or water.
It’s ok to:
- ✔ Hold hands
- ✔ Kiss
- ✔ Hug
- ✔ Sneeze
- ✔ Cough
- ✔ Share cups, cutlery and dishes.
How to protect others
There are things you can do to help prevent the transmission of hep C to another person.
|Any blood spills – including dried blood which can still be infectious – should be cleaned using a dilution of one-part bleach, 10 parts water. Wear gloves when cleaning up blood.|
|Don’t share personal items like toothbrushes, razors or nail clippers – or any item that could have your blood on it.|
|If you are still injecting or snorting drugs, don’t share needles or equipment with anyone else.|
Hep C and sex
The risk of catching hep C through sex is low, especially if you are in a long-term relationship with one partner.
The risk increases if you are having rough sex, have a sexually transmitted infection (STI) or are infected with HIV.
Practice safe sex by using condoms.
Hepatitis C may be spread if there is contact with an infected person’s blood – which may be present because of genital sores or cuts or menstruation.
Talking about hepatitis C with others
Hepatitis C can be a sensitive subject, and you may not want to talk about it but having the support of a friend or family member can help. There are several ways to start a hep C conversation. Only you can decide when the time is best for you. And when you’re ready, here are some suggestions to get started:
Begin with the facts and encourage people to learn more
You can start by sharing what you know about hep C. When friends and family understand your condition better, they’ll be able to support you better. If they have questions, point them to this website.
Share how you’re feeling
Ask for what you need. Talk about how you’re feeling – especially about any symptoms you may have and how they affect your mood. In addition to speaking with your doctor, tell your friends and family if hep C makes you tired or depressed. Speaking honestly can help them understand what’s going on and why.
Spread the word about treatment
Oral treatments are available today that can cure hep C infection in most people. This means that the hepatitis C virus is not found in your blood 3 months after treatment ends.
Successful treatment is likely to be accompanied by an improvement in how you feel.
When you have been treated, let your friends and family know so that others suffering with hep C will also come forward for testing and treatment.
Keep in contact with your doctor
Your doctor is your best source of information about hep C’s effect on your body, how to look after yourself and others and the treatment that’s available.
If your doctor has prescribed treatment, you will be asked to have a blood test 3 months after you have finished treatment.
It is very important that you have this test to know whether your treatment has worked.
Your doctor may also ask you to continue to see them at least once or twice a year, even if treatment has successfully cleared the virus from your blood.
Keep track of any symptoms you have and if you’re concerned with how you’re feeling, contact your doctor right away.