Avoid AlcoholYou should avoid alcoholic drinks -- beer, wine and spirits -- if you have chronic hepatitis. Since your liver is already under stress with inflammation, making it work harder to process any alcohol you might drink isn't helpful. In fact, studies show that if you have hepatitis C, drinking alcohol increases your risk of developing cirrhosis and interferes with certain treatments.
Quit SmokingYour liver has an amazing ability to repair itself. Unfortunately, smoking can interfere with this healing process. There is overwhelming evidence that both drinking alcohol and smoking will accelerate the progression of liver disease in people with hepatitis C. For ideas and help to stop smoking, visit About.com's Smoking Cessation site.
Stop Taking Unnecessary DrugsThough that medicine you bought from the drugstore didn't require a prescription, it still can harm your liver. The same goes for herbal medicines, vitamins and supplements. Your liver can't tell a prescription drug from an over-the-counter pain pill from an herbal remedy. To your liver, it's all a chemical that must be broken down. Because all medicines have the potential to further damage your liver, talk with your doctor about all of the medicines you take and find out which ones you should continue with or avoid.
Eat a Well-balanced DietA well-balanced diet is good advice for everyone. We all have similar nutritional needs, whether we have chronic hepatitis or not. These needs change if you have severe cirrhosis, but basically, a good diet for a healthy liver is a good diet for an inflamed liver -- with some modifications. You'll need to make sure you're getting the right kinds of nutrients without getting too much protein or fat.
Exercise RegularlyMost people can benefit from moderate exercise, and folks with hepatitis aren't an exception. The benefits from exercise are well established and include keeping your heart healthy, your mind sharp, your spirits high and your joints flexible. By working with your doctor, you can find the appropriate level of exercise for you. If you're not used to regular exercise, start with a short walk around your neighborhood. Chances are you'll start seeing and feeling the benefits almost immediately. For more information about exercising, check out About.com's Exercise site.
VaccinationEven if you already have one type of chronic hepatitis, you can be infected with or develop another type. This is called hepatitis co-infection, and it's a big problem for people with an already damaged liver.
Immunizations and small changes in your lifestyle can help keep you from getting most types of hepatitis. Cheap, effective vaccines are available for hepatitis A and hepatitis B (which will also protect you from hepatitis D).
Find a Good DoctorSure, you like your doctor, but is he or she the best doctor for treating your liver? Certainly, in many cases, family medicine docs and general internists can successfully treat hepatitis. However, specialists like hepatologists and gastroenterologists have extra training and experience dealing with the most difficult forms of chronic hepatitis. Talk with your doctor and make sure you're getting the best treatment available to you.
Be Careful When Using ChemicalsAny chemical that enters your bloodstream will probably make its way to your liver. That's because one of your liver's jobs is to filter your blood and help break down toxins. Chemicals can enter your body in several different ways, including through the skin (transdermal) and through your mouth and nose (from using aerosol sprays). So be careful and take precautions when using cleaners and solvents. Wearing gloves and working in a well-ventilated room is a must.
Chow JH, Chow C. The Encyclopedia of Hepatitis and Other Liver Diseases. Infobase Publishing, New York: 2006. 201-202.
Dienstag, JL. "Acute Viral Hepatitis and Chronic Hepatitis." Harrison's Principles of Internal Medicine 17e. 2008.