The most difficult thing people struggle to deal with whilst on hepatitis C therapy is the side effects caused by the Ribavirin pills and Interferon injections. The side effects one experiences differ from person to person. Some individuals may be unaware that they are taking any medicine, whereas others may feel as if they have a cold or feel even worse whilst undergoing therapy. If you are undergoing the therapy for hepatitis C, you need to:
- Identify and recognize any side effects you are experiencing
- Learn and manage these and knowing when to ask your doctor or health care practitioner for help
- Know the serious ones so you can immediately report these to your doctor
It is significant that you are educated about your treatment. This is so you can feel better really quickly and complete it with positive results.
Those undergoing treatment for hepatitis C tend to find it hard to sleep. This further leads to:
- Depression/sadness/feeling down
- Poor sleeping
- Being short-tempered
The drugs taken for hepatitis C can also cause problems for the whole body, such as:
- Feeling tired
- Body and muscle aches
The body and muscle aches one experiences can result from swelling of the muscles because of the Interferon. However, Ribavirin may also cause dehydration and muscle inflammation as well as loss of fluid in the blood vessels, which also leads to muscle aches.
The drugs taken for hepatitis C can also cause problems for the stomach, mouth, and digestion, such as:
- Bad taste in mouth
- Poor appetite
- Sore throat
- Sore mouth
- Thick saliva
- Dry mouth
The drugs taken for hepatitis C can also cause problems for the skin and hair. The treatment may cause skin rashes, reactions at the site of the injection and temporary hair loss.
Every one in three patients on the Interferon treatment lose their hair whilst undergoing the therapy. This happens slowly and one also loses their hair little by little and not in major patches. Once the Interferon treatment is stopped, the hair does grow back gradually to its normal thickness.
Skin rashes usually happen on the chest (torso) and the arms. These usually result from the Ribavirin and tend to come and go during the treatment.
Injection Site Reactions
You may find blotchy red areas around the site of your injection. These may also itch at times. However, these do get better after several days. Tips for such reactions include:
- Applying a cold pack to the area
- Using hydrocortisone (cream) – must ask GP first
- Changing the area you are injected
Other Side Effects
Other side effects the therapy may cause include:
- Shortness of breath
- Chest pain
- Thyroid problems
- Vision changes
- Low red blood cells
- Low platelets
- Low white blood cells
It is important you discuss any side effects you are experiencing with your GP or health care practitioner. They will usually provide you with tips on controlling the effect or may even suggest a change in treatment. You need to remember everyone reacts to different treatments in different ways and it is no way necessary that something working for another individual also work well for you and vice versa.