My mother is 56 yrs. old, and will be starting the interfuron sometime in February. Can someone tell me what to expect, as to how this may effect her? I know that everyone responds differently, but I want the worst and the best. She has the worst form of the Hep. C virus, does anyone know what the percentage rate is of the interfuron killing this virus? She is having a positive attitude about things right now, and she is on several prayer lists, I know that will help. But I will probably be the one to help take care of her if she gets really sick. The doctor also told her that she does have Cirrosus (sp?).
What do I need to know to be able to help her? I know that she cannot drink while on this treatment, but what about smoking? She doesn't smoke very much, but do I need to push her to quit that too?
She is sometimes bull headed when someone tells her that she has to do something. But she has already almost quit the drinking, and says that she will completly quit once she starts the treatment.
Interferon affects people differently. Few people are able to complete an entire course of interferon therapy without some side effects (the severity varies from person to person), but I have been told that can happen.
The fact that your mother has cirrhosis is something that must be taken very seriously. It is a good sign that she can take the interferon therapy. It means that she can make choices to spare her liver further damage. If she takes the steps necessary to care for herslef, there is every reason to expect her to live out a normal lifespan.
But, it also means that she will never be able to let down her guard on taking care of herself if she wants to live that normal lifespan. The damage to her liver is mostly permanent and irreversible (basically her liver is scarred), though some measure of repair may be possible. So, for her, the advice I am about to give you is not just likely to be liver-saving, it may very well save her life.
She must not touch another drop of alcohol, EVER. Not any at all, NOTHING. That she believes that she can have a little alcohol leads me to wonder whether she is more dependent on alcohol that she will admit or she may have gotten bad information from her medical provider (this is doubtful, though, with cirrhosis) The most important reason is that hepatitis C and alcohol equal on-going liver damage and may result in the need for a transplant if it continues. If she continues to drink alcohol and her liver continues to deteriorate, she will be ineligible for a transplant because of the alcohol. No negotiations and no last minute bargains. She will not get one and that it the policy of every transplant center in this country. Same for smokers.
The second reason she needs to quit drinking alcohol right now (not later during treatment) is because she may not be able to stop easily and she may need help to stop drinking. Treatment is the worst possible time to undergo treatment for alcohol cessation. She will need to be as strong as possible physically and strong mentally in order to get through the interferon treatment.
Smoking also causes damage to the liver called fibrosis (essentially scarring that turns into cirhossis). This is a scientific fact, just as the damage alcohol can do to the liver has been demonstrated scientifically. Alcohol plus smoking plus hepatitis C is probably the reason your mother has cirrhosis now. Hepatitis C alone almost never causes severe damage to the liver, particularly in women.
If your mother begins to take excellent care of herself now she is unlikely to ever need a transplant and she can, potentially, arrest the damage that is happening to her liver. It isn't any guarantee, but her chances of being healthier are very high compared to her prospects if she treats with interferon and continues to abuse her liver by drinking alcohol and smoking.
What can you do? You can be the one who brings a reality check into the picture. If your mother will allow you, you should consult with her doctor and let the doctor know that alcohol is a continuing problem. I hope this response to you helps you understand what a serious problem this is and lends some perpective. She may need to postpone treatment for hepatitis C until she has ceased smoking and using alcohol and built herself up physically.
She needs to get herself into a place where good nutrition is part of her lifestyle, along with moderate exercise, and weight control if that is an issue. Those who are overweight do less well on interferon therapy than those who are not. She is already aware that she has the genotype (type) that is most resistant to treatment. She has no "wiggle room" when it comes to doing what is needed to optimize her chances for a response to the interferon therapy.
Most people do not need someone to take care of them during treatment although a strong support system is highly recommended. The major work is going to be hers since you cannot monitor and police her compliance. You should continue to live your own life.
I do not want to make assumptions about your relationship. If you need help trying to figure out what is helping and what is not, a counsellor might be helpful in that regard. We are here for you, but we can only go so far. We are not a substitute for a doctor's advice or for the benefits a good counsellor can offer.
Another point of information, your mother should not fast. A snack at bedtime and eating small meals beginning with awakening, keeps the blood levels equalized in cirrhotic patients. This is very important. Yogurt was used in the studies, but any snack will do. One of the things I did for my husband was to cook really health soups and freeze them in portions he could microwave at work. That would be a great thing to offer someone on treatment: fill their freezer with nutritious meals.
I hope this helps,
hepatitis c outreach project
...all information is intended for general information and is not an attempt to speak to the specifics of any one person's medical situation or decision...........
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Last edited by thanbey; 01-23-2004 at 06:30 AM.