Whether it’s the treatment, liver damage or the virus itself, having hepatitis C is usually accompanied by fatigue. Even some people with hep C who have normal liver tests are still burdened by feeling tired all the time. The stress of living with a disease as uncertain as hepatitis C can easily weigh a person down, acknowledges Blaire E. Burman, MD, a gastroenterology and hepatology fellow at the University of California, San Francisco.
Your energy levels will get better after you’ve successfully gone through treatment, but in the meantime, there are several lifestyle changes you can make to keep your energy and spirits up.
1. Manage your stress.
Having a long-term illness like hepatitis C and managing all that comes along with it can be a source of stress. You can help alleviate your stress by practicing meditation, yoga and other relaxation techniques often.
2. Move your body.
Exercise may be the last thing on your mind when you feel too tired to move, but physical activity can improve your mood and your health. The daily recommendation is 30 minutes of moderate activity five days a week. Try working your way up by starting with a light 10-minute walk.
3. Get enough sleep.
Hepatitis C treatment can cause insomina, causing you to feel tired in the morning. “Sleep is key in everything,” says Diana Blank, MD, a staff psychiatrist at Toronto Western Hospital and a member of the hospital’s comprehensive hepatitis C team. “So if the sleep pattern changes, then that’s enough to screw up someone’s life and have them become chronically fatigued.” Sounds like a vicious cycle, but you can help yourself get a better night’s sleep by:
- Keeping your bedroom dark, cool and quiet
- Setting a regular bedtime and wake up time
- Not watching television or reading in bed
- Skipping caffeinated drinks late in the day
4. Avoid alcohol.
Alcohol is not only a threat to your liver, but it can also make you tired.
5. Listen to your body.
You will have good days and days where you feel not to good. Listen to the rhythm of your body and adjust your activities accordingly. Rest when you feel the need to rest.
If your fatigue is chronic and persistent, talk to your doctor about your treatment options.
Visit the BlackDoctor.org Hepatitis C center for more helpful articles and tips.