Hepatitis C has infected you. It does not necessarily imply that you are or will become ill. Nonetheless, the news of the diagnosis comes as a shock. A slew of questions whirls about in your mind. Why am I here? I’m not sure how I got this virus. Is it possible for me to get infected by my surroundings? Will I be required to take medication? Is this a difficult situation? Is it possible to treat hepatitis C? Should I make any changes to my routine?
I’m not familiar with the disease.
It’s critical to receive answers to the questions you’ve been asking yourself since learning you’ve been infected with the virus (HCV). Establishing a trustworthy relationship with your doctor is critical for the future; avoid placing yourself in a childish position to do so. You have the right to receive as many explanations as you require. Your doctor should refer you to other resources if you need further information.
How should you prepare for your visit?
Make a list of the questions you wish to ask in a notebook before the consultation. Try to approach the topics that concern you without trepidation, even if it’s not always easy. This may not happen overnight, but you can build an involved relationship with your doctor over time.
What should I say to them, and how should I say it?
Hepatitis C is still a complex topic to discuss. Before speaking with our loved ones, being well-informed allows us to communicate the issue clearly, not worry too much about how others perceive our health, and anticipate possible adverse reactions. Over time, we’ve learned to adopt different mindsets depending on who we’re speaking with.
You are not obligated to discuss it if you do not choose to. However, it is recommended that you devote yourself to at least one person for your balance. Look for support in your environment; it doesn’t have to be intimate.
Can I contaminate my surroundings?
- The hepatitis C virus is spread through the bloodstream. As a result, there is no danger in normal life. Kissing, touching, and using shared restrooms and washing machines are all permitted. It’s pointless to do things a certain way when it comes to dishwashing.
- Hepatitis C is not spread through saliva, cough, or perspiration.
- Avoid exchanging items that may come into touch with blood, such as razors, nail clippers, tweezers, toothbrushes, and dental equipment.
- Do what all other women do when it comes to feminine intimate hygiene: put your dirty napkins in well-sealed bags and toss them in the garbage.
- Never share injection or “sniff” equipment with other drug users (syringes, cottons, spoons, straws, etc.).
There’s no need to be concerned if a little injury occurs: there’s no risk of contamination if a person’s skin comes into touch with our blood. The virus requires a “gateway” to be transmitted: it acts as a barrier when the skin is intact.
If you want to be calm:
- Recommend wearing gloves when being treated by a loved one.
- Apply a disinfectant to the wound and wrap it in a bandage.
- Notify your dentist and any other health experts you may be in contact (nurse, acupuncturist, etc.). If notifying these folks is a challenge for you, don’t feel bad: caregivers must take the same precautions with all patients.
Tips and tricks
Get in the habit of keeping your toiletries separate from the rest of your house, especially if you have children.
Do I need to be more careful in my sexual life?
The risk of HCV transmission through sexual contact is quite low. Use condoms during periods of menstruation (if you are a woman contaminated), genital diseases (e.g. herpes), or lesions of the sexual organs to protect yourself in situations where blood contact is possible. We have sex without a condom outside of these conditions when we are in a “stable” relationship.
Condoms are usually recommended if we have several sexual partners, primarily to protect ourselves against infection by other infections (hepatitis B, HIV/AIDS, and other sexually transmitted diseases).
Can I be pregnant?
Except during treatment, pregnancy is not prohibited for women with hepatitis C virus. At the time of birth, the probability of HCV transfer from mother to an infant would be less than 5%.
To remove the virus or limit the risk of transmission, you may wish to seek HCV therapy before getting pregnant. If the kid is still infected, you should be aware that the progression of hepatitis C in a newborn is usually uneventful.
A child born to a mother who has HCV should get special medical attention during the first year of life.
Hepatitis C coinfection and AIDS virus
The risk of HCV transmission to the infant is higher for future moms who are infected with hepatitis C and HIV/AIDS — it is estimated to be around 20%.
Do I need to change my habits?
Most doctors advise against changing your food habits. In theory, unless you are overweight, no medical evidence supports a particular diet.
However, if your eating habits are a little erratic, use this as an opportunity to change them. You will benefit even more from the rules that help everyone. It’s essential to keep track of your dietary intake, avoid too much fat and sugar, and prioritise vegetables, fruits, starchy foods, fish, white meats, and dairy products.
Please pay attention to your desires and act on them. You may or may not wish to eat a specific food type depending on your state of illness. Our motto is “don’t deprive yourself, but don’t force yourself.”
This is an important topic. The experts are adamant: you must abstain from all alcohol use. In practice, the issue is more complicated.
First, consider your connection with alcohol: is it necessary? Are you able to go without or cut back on your consumption?
Excessive drinkers, or those who use more than 20 grams of alcohol each day, should be aware that the progression of hepatitis C is four times faster. This is the equivalent to three glasses of wine for a man and two glasses of wine for a woman. Speak to your doctor if you are more or less reliant on alcohol or feel frail.
Tips and tricks
To assess your alcohol intake,
Ask yourself these four questions to measure your alcohol consumption:
- Have you ever felt compelled to cut back on your alcohol consumption?
- Has anyone in your group ever made a remark about how much you drink?
- Have you ever suspected that you are consuming too much alcohol?
- Have you ever required alcohol to feel good in the morning? If you replied yes twice, you should consult your physician.
Implementing a new behaviour as an infrequent and moderate drinker is, of course, dependent on your health. Alcohol must be restricted in cases of severe hepatitis. In other circumstances, we must avoid going overboard. We can, however, consume one glass of wine each day during a meal unless there is a medical contraindication. Fasting aperitifs are more difficult for us than powerful alcohols, which should be avoided at all costs. If you don’t drink, that doesn’t imply you can’t do anything. If you don’t drink alcohol, don’t say no to invitations. It is critical to keep getting out and maintaining a social life.
Tips and tricks
Your friends may push you to drink during a party or dinner, especially if they are unaware of your HCV infection. You don’t always want to justify your refusal or explain why. Some of us have devised methods for making life easier. Half-fill your glass with wine and sip it carefully. Nobody will serve you again during this time. You can also substitute sparkling water for champagne and orange juice for the punch to avoid concerns.
Hepatitis C can cause saliva production to be disrupted, which protects teeth. A dry mouth influences the condition of the gums. Furthermore, hepatitis C therapies are frequently detrimental to teeth. To avoid these issues, you must practise good tooth hygiene and see a dentist regularly.
What can disturb my daily life?
This is a common occurrence for you. It’s critical to speak with your doctor, who will need to diagnose your exhaustion, which could be caused by HCV, stress, or anything else. One of the signs of a depressive condition is morning fatigue.
Fatigue affects many of us throughout the day. Depending on the severity of the disease, it may prevent you from working or performing household activities. This exhaustion can sometimes become crippling, not consistently recognised by those around you and can lead to family issues. We must face the reality that we are weary and work to handle it daily:
- Tell your loved ones.
- Seek assistance.
- Do not be afraid to approach his doctor for sick leave.
- Arrange his schedule.
It is preferable to get some rest if you must be productive at a specified hour. Take advantage of the weekend to sleep, but don’t allow exhaustion to rule your life: set aside time for leisure and things you enjoy.
Tips and tricks
Sleeping for a short period during the day is beneficial. A twenty-minute sleep could help you feel better. Another way to unwind is to take a shower and massage your cervical and lumbar areas.
Hepatitis patients’ quality of life is closely linked to their psychological experiences. The importance of anxiety is typically determined by a lack of communication and support from family members and a lack of knowledge about the disease’s progression.
Morale is also affected by fatigue and recovery issues. The worst solution is to remain silent. We’ve got to talk. This allows you to depersonalise, vent your fears, and discuss your concerns with others. A professional (psychologist, psychiatrist), an association, or a group of speakers can all assist you. Above all, don’t ask your questions alone.