While millions of people get infected with hepatitis C each year, not all of them will get diagnosed in the early stages. This lack of a diagnosis can happen because the disease typically has mild symptoms or no symptoms at all in the early stages. Since hepatitis C affects the health of your liver, however, your doctor will want to make sure that you’re getting the right treatment to maintain your health. To that end, there are a few things you should know about Hepatitis C.
1. The Disease Needs To Be Staged
When your doctor is testing you for the hepatitis virus, they will also use blood and liver function tests to determine how long you’ve been infected. Your blood will show antibodies and there will be liver enzymes in your system indicating damage.
These results will let your doctor know if you’ve been infected for fewer than or more than six months. If you’ve had hepatitis C for fewer than six months, then this is considered to be the acute or early stages. Longer than six months is categorized as a chronic infection.
2. Treatment Might Not Start Immediately
If you’re diagnosed with the acute form of hepatitis C, your doctor may choose to monitor you without giving you medication. That’s because the illness often resolves by itself in the early stages.
However, once there are signs that the virus is going to persist then your doctor will discuss your treatment options.
3. Your Treatment Length May Vary
There are multiple drugs available for the treatment of hepatitis C. When deciding which one to prescribe for you, several factors will need to be considered.
For example, certain drugs will not be recommended for people who have other chronic illnesses such as heart disease. The health of your liver will also be important. For that reason, some people get tablets that they can take once per day for only eight weeks while others have to take their medication three times per day for up to twelve weeks.
4. You’ll Need To Manage Those Side Effects
As you might expect, the medications for treating hepatitis C will have side effects. You should always ask your doctor what to look out for and how to manage them.
If you’re having a hard time handling the effects, ask about alternatives. A few of the side effects you may have to deal with include
nausea, trouble sleeping, fatigue, anxiety, and hair loss.
5. It’s Best To Track Your Symptoms
Even though you’re being treated, hepatitis C can still cause health complications. Apart from liver damage, the virus can affect your lungs, eyes, and heart.
Doctors recommend tracking your symptoms so you can let them know if anything has changed. With so many things going on, it makes sense to write down lists that separate your current hepatitis symptoms and the side effects of the medications so it’s easy to see what might be new.
6. You’ll Need To Be Vaccinated
While there’s no vaccine for hepatitis C, there are vaccines for the A and B forms of the virus. Hepatitis A and B have different symptoms but they still affect the liver.
To make sure that your liver is not under too much stress, doctors recommend that you get vaccinated as soon as they say it’s appropriate. It’s best to work with your doctor to determine which schedule is best.
7. You Should Make A Long-Term Plan
Unfortunately, there is a small percentage of people who do not respond to the treatments for hepatitis C. Your doctor will definitely try every option that’s available but it’s good to be prepared.
If you’ll be dealing with the virus for a lifetime, you can expect to have regular doctor visits to monitor your liver and general health. In some cases, people need to have a liver transplant.
In many cases, Hepatitis C is easily treated and you won’t have to worry about any long-term complications. To be on the safe side, however, your doctor might still schedule regular visits to check on your liver. It’s also a good idea to make a note of any new symptoms or health changes. Maintaining good health overall by eating well and exercising will be helpful.