The Five: Fatigue —Alan Franciscus, Editor-in-Chief

  1. Fatigue or feeling tired is the most common symptom of hepatitis C.  It is also the most common extrahepatic (occurring outside of the liver) condition of hepatitis C.  It is also one of the most common side effects of HCV therapy.  It can range from mild to moderate to so severe that it can affect almost every area of life.

  2. Causes:  Fatigue can be caused by many factors besides hepatitis C.  Be sure to talk with your medical provider before jumping to a conclusion that the cause is hepatitis C.  Other factors that could be causing fatigue could be other extrahepatic manifestations of hepatitis C (thyroid problems, anemia, HCV treatment, depression, sleep problems, poor diet, lack of exercise, medications, alcohol use and so on). 

  3. Self-help strategies:  After you have ruled out any other causes with your medical providers there are many strategies to help improve your energy levels.  We have an excellent Guide to Understanding and Managing Fatigue that can walk you through many self-help tips such as information on improving sleep, nutrition, exercise, meditation, complementary medicines and much more.

  4. HCV Treatment:  Severe fatigue is one of the extrahepatic manifestations that can qualify someone for treatment.  Curing hepatitis C can also cure fatigue, though fatigue can worsen temporarily during treatment.  Be sure to talk with your medical provider about the fatigue you are experiencing and other symptoms.  Make sure to document all symptoms in your medical records.  For some people, it is hard to complain or even talk about their symptoms.  It is critical, however, to make sure that you document your complaints.  Medical records are important for treatment and disability records.

    One of the best ways to gauge your level of energy or any other factor is to use a scale of 1 to 10 and keep a journal.  Let’s say you have a wonderful day, full of energy, and you feel like your old self.  That would be a fatigue scale of 1.  Now let’s say you have a day where you are feeling sluggish but can still work.  Maybe that is a fatigue day of 4.  Then there are days when you can hardly get out of bed.  Let’s say that is a 10 on the scale of fatigue.  I think you get the idea.  Log it into a journal every day.  Take a copy with you to your medical provider and have them put it in your medical records.
  5. Support: One way to fight fatigue is to join a support group (either on-line or in-person) and talk with others who are experiencing fatigue.   Try to remember to take care of yourself and to practice self-care tips to keep you well and healthy.

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