Kitchener, Waterloo & Cambridge Area

29 Young Street East
Waterloo, Ontario N2J 2L4 (Google Map)
Telephone: 519-603-0223
Fax: 519-888-6422

Wellington, Dufferin & Guelph Area

176 Wyndham Street North
Guelph, Ontario N1H 8N9 (Google Map)
Telephone: 877-351-9857
Fax: 519-888-6422

Treatment Side Effects

Many people have heard that the treatment for Hepatitis C brings difficult side effects – and may be worried about starting treatment as a result. It’s true that some patients experience side effects, but some do not.

It’s important to remember that all medications – for Hepatitis C and otherwise – have the potential to cause side effects.  Our clinical and support team has a great deal of experience in helping people to avoid, or treat, the side effects that our patients might experience.

Please talk to our clinical staff or our support staff about any side effects you experience – let us help. You may also want to attend our support groups to talk about how you’re feeling and how others have managed their treatment.


Flu-like symptoms

Most people have mild to moderate flu-like symptoms but these usually decrease after the first few weeks of treatment.

You can try the following to alleviate the symptoms:

  • Taking Tylenol or Advil before you take your injection can help.
  • Try taking your weekly injection at night; you may be able to sleep through the symptoms.
  • Drink plenty of water (about 8 glasses a day).
  • Use extra blankets and clothes when you have the chills.
  • Use ice or gel pack for fevers, headaches and other aches and pains.
  • Avoid loud noises, bright lights, alcohol and caffeine, this may help with headaches.


Nausea is a fairly common side-effect of the medication mainly caused by the pills.

It is very important that you take the pills with food.

Tips to combat nausea:

  • Eat smaller, more frequent meals.
  • Be sure meals are lukewarm or cold. Food that is hot can annoy your stomach.
  • Try ginger tea or ginger ale or anything with peppermint.
  • Try to eat healthy foods. Avoid foods that are greasy, spicy or have a strong odour.
  • Snack on crackers and cheese, vegetables and dip or nuts.
  • Ask your doctor if you can try Tums or Rolaids for heartburn.
  • Do not lie down after eating.
  • Keep physically active.
  • Try to distract yourself.

Loss of appetite

Loss of appetite is quite common on treatment.

Here are some tips to try:

  • Eat a wide variety of foods from all the food groups. Choose different textures and colours.
  • Try to prepare and eat meals with family and friends.
  • Include meal-replacement drinks or bars in your diet.
  • Make sure you eat enough protein. Consider adding protein powder to your drinks.
  • Avoid carbonated beverages and foods that cause gas.
  • Eat whatever appeals to you.
  • Avoid eating hot food, lukewarm is better.
  • Stick with nutritious food that is high in calories such as peanut butter and cheese.
  • Maintain good oral hygiene.
  • Do some mild exercise such as walking before a meal.
  • Make smoothies.


How to manage fatigue:

  • Take your weekly interferon injection at bedtime.
  • Drink plenty of fluids.
  • Maintain a healthy overall nutrition.
  • Go for a walk.
  • Rest often, take short naps.
  • Schedule more demanding activities during your most energetic times of day.
  • Do things that are relaxing such as watching movies or reading.
  • Only do the things that absolutely need to be done.
  • Lessen your work schedule.
  • Let friends and family help you.
  • Try stress reduction and relaxation techniques.

Trouble sleeping

What to do if you experience trouble sleeping:

  • Exercise during the day but not within 4 hours before bedtime.
  • Limit daytime naps.
  • Take warm baths, read or listen to soothing music before bedtime.
  • Talk with your doctor about prescription and non-prescription sleep agents.
  • Keep a journal; it may help you recognize areas for change.
  • Limit caffeine, avoid alcohol.
  • Maintain a regular sleep schedule.
  • Try relaxation techniques.
  • Reduce noise at bedtime.
  • Limit fluid intake and avoid heavy meals before bedtime.
  • Have foods and beverages that contain tryptophan such as milk and turkey.

Skin problems

Dry skin, itchy skin and skin rashes during treatment can be helped by the following:

  • Keep your skin moisturized, especially after taking a shower.
  • Take lukewarm baths with oatmeal for itching or bath oil for moisturizing.
  • Avoid scratching but try rubbing or pressing. Use an ice cube instead of your nails.
  • Drink plenty of non-caffeinated beverages to keep your skin hydrated.
  • Maintain a healthy overall nutrition. Talk to your doctor about supplements.
  • Use mild soaps and laundry detergent.
  • Take over the counter allergy medication to help with itching.

Ask your doctor for prescription creams if these things don’t help.

Emotional problems

Tips to help with emotional problems and depression:

  • Talk to your doctor.
  • Keep a diary.
  • Maintain regular routines.
  • Do things that relieve stress such as exercise, meditation and relaxation.
  • Avoid too much coffee and too much sugar.
  • Join a support group.
  • Talk about your feelings with family and close friends.
  • Take care of your body, drink plenty of water, eat healthy meals, exercise and get enough sleep.
  • Listen to those around you for clues that you might need to get help.
  • If you are taking medicine for depression make sure you do not skip a dose.

Hair thinning or hair loss

Hair thinning on treatment does not happen very frequently.

Here are some tips to try:

  • Do not brush your hair too frequently. When you do use a wide-toothed comb or a soft brush. Do not brush your hair when wet.
  • Wash hair less frequently and use a conditioner.
  • Do not perm or color your hair during treatment.
  • Avoid hair accessories that pull hair.
  • Lessen the use of hair gels, sprays and mousses especially if they are alcohol-based.
  • Use a low-pressure shower head
  • Limit blow-drying or straightening
  • Consider a shorter hair style
  • Use a mild shampoo