How to help your body

There are some lifestyle changes you can make when living with hepatitis C which will help your body and improve your overall well-being. These include:

Reducing or stopping alcohol and drug consumption

Alcohol and drug use can cause further harm to your liver. With alcohol, it is essential to minimise alcohol intake or cut out alcohol completely in order to keep any damage to your liver to an absolute minimum. Research has shown that even moderate drinking can accelerate the progress of liver disease in people with hepatitis C.

Drug use can quicken the speed that damage is being done to your liver. If you have hepatitis C and are sharing equipment to prepare or inject, inhale or snort drugs, it can also put other people at risk of getting the virus. To protect your liver and to reduce the risk of passing on the virus, consider stopping drug use, or use new equipment every time and never share.

If you have successfully been treated for hepatitis C, you must also be aware that you are at risk of reinfection if you are using drugs and sharing equipment.

Support is available if you need help to change your drinking or drug use habits.

I was a heavy drinker, and had drunk every day for at least 10 years, but I was determined to give this treatment the best chance to work. I found the strength to stay on the wagon.

Phil

 

Eating a healthy, balanced diet

It is important to maintain a healthy weight for your gender, age and height, and also to ensure that you eat a healthy, balanced diet. A healthy, balanced diet can help improve liver health and lower your risk of developing liver cirrhosis.

This includes:

  • Drinking plenty of water to help the liver flush out toxins.
  • Eating plenty of fruit and vegetables, good carbohydrates and proteins, foods which are high in fibre (e.g. wholegrain breads and cereals), and foods which are low in saturated fat (e.g. rice and pasta). These foods are much easier for the liver to process than fried, salty, and sugary foods.

You can arrange an appointment with a dietician to support you to make positive changes to your diet.

Staying active

There are many benefits to taking regular exercise including energy gain, weight loss, and mental well-being. All of these make a big difference to living with hepatitis C. People with hepatitis C are encouraged to take mild to moderate exercise, which can even include taking a brisk walk. Keep in mind, however, that if you are receiving treatment for hepatitis C, you may find your capacity for exercise to be less.

Being active can:

  • Improve your mood if you are feeling down
  • Help relieve stress
  • Help you sleep better
  • Help you maintain a healthy weight
  • Improve your body's ability to fight infections.

Sleep

Getting a good nights sleep is important for everyone, but particularly if you suffer from a long term illness like hepatitis C. A lot of research has shown that sleeping less than 6 hours a night can increase your chances of various serious health conditions. For tips on a good night's sleep visit the National Sleep Foundation website.

Smoking

The benefits of stopping smoking are clear. However, it's much easier said than done. Like some drugs and alcohol, the addictive qualities of tobacco mean that coming off can be very stressful. If you feel ready to quit, your doctor will be only too glad to give you as much help as possible. ASH Scotland have a useful information sheet which explain the health risks of smoking with a blood borne virus infection.

Complementary therapies

There are also a wide range of complementary therapies that may help to relieve symptoms and some of the side effects of treatment.

Hepatitis C Scotland

http://www.hepcscotland.co.uk

© Health Protection Scotland