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Hi Paradise,

Well, guess what, you have some of the most common symptoms of a supposedly symptom-less disease. Trouble sleeping and the daytime sleepiness/exhaustion that always follows it are two of my major complaints, and they are often reported in the quality-of-life studies of hep cases (that would be us). And, even though for me it's more intermittent, I certainly have had the itching thing. It is also reported to be among the most common symptoms of hcv.

So, welcome to the club. We are a fine group, all in all.

As to sleeping, the only thing I've found to work occassionally for me is Benadryl--an antihistamine i once took for allergies, but had to drop since it knocked me out. Now I will resort to it if I am desperate to sleep. Like the Sleep-eeze mentioned by Lost 1, this seems very mild stuff, but it can help. As with all meds, even this over-the-counter stuff is to be approached with caution by those of us with funny livers. In my opinion.

By the way, valerian is often suggested, but there is good reason to believe it is risky for the liver, so, no. Kava kava an absolute no.

I know some hep folks have reported that their docs have suggested Ambien and one other med, trazadone(?forgive the botched spelling, maybe, from my hep-impaired memory). I'm hoping I can go on a bit more without resorting to prescription sleep meds. I've done so for three decades now, so.....

You will definitely want to talk to a hepatologist or gastroenerologist who does a lot of work with hep c, who is willing to converse with you a bit about this very confusing disease, and who won't be scaring himself or you into treatment before even investigating the condition of the liver.

You will also definitely want a biopsy before making any big decisions about treatment. If you get to the right doc, he or she will probably want the biopsy, too. No blood test, unfortunately, gives very good clues as to the liver's condition. Really high ALT and AST scores are bad, and really low (normal range) scores are good--usually, but except for very gross statements like those, the numbers don't correlate well to liver condition.

And, believe me, you want to know your liver's condition before making the treatment decision. Interferon in its many forms is still the most effective and almost the only tx prescribed, either alone or with ribavarin, but it is--from what we read here--nothing to mess with lightly. I have chosen not to, for now, for one person's example. A really bad biopsy report could change my mind.


Read through some of the older posts here, follow some of the authors or threads a bit, maybe visit a trustwrothy site like hcop.org or the hiv and hepatitis site (I know the mention of hiv scares people, but the site has excellent, up to date research reports), or hepcnet, and so on. I keep forgetting the name or url of that canadian site that has such good info. it's out there, somewhere.

You will also want, long before deciding on treatment, a consultation about insurance coverage. This stuff can be expensive.

Mind if I ask a question? "the metals in your blood improved?" what's that mean?

As to alternatives, I know of research that supports silymarin (milk thistle) for the liver, although not for hep c specifically, but it seems to have virtually no downside risks, so I take it. Vitamin E and lecithin similarly have good records of protecting the liver from some forms of harm, are cheap and have virtually no risks (although vitamin E is a mild blood thinner. For most of us, especially males, this may be good news, but it must be considered when taking high doses, as I do (1,200 units a day, when i can remember). It seems to cause one to write run-on sentences, though.

Selenium seems of some value, but is dangerous as hell in overdose, so it seems foolhardy to take more than 200 micrograms a day. If you know you live in a low-selenium part of the country (how do you know this?) maybe 400 would make sense. Other antoxidants are hypothesized also to help stall fibrosis, but the research gets thinner and thinner when you get further away from these basic ones. However, it's hard for me to believe that such things as grape seed extract, or green tea, or alpha lipoic acid--such CHEAP and relatively well-studied compounds--would do one much harm, so for those who take 'em--in moderation--I say good luck. I sometimes do, too, when the mood strikes me. I just don't hope too hard that it will "reverse" the hep c. Oh I started takin SAMe recently cause of arthritis and because it has a very good record on various liver conditions--especially as reproted in European journals. I don't know if it's helping mhy liver, but i do actually believe it may be the first thing to make a noticeable change in my arthritis. Maybe I'm imagining it. SAMe is not so cheap as the previously mentioned items.

I don't recognize a bunch of the things you take, but I must believe you have researched them a bit. It is your liver.

Oh, I almost forgot to mention. I THINK my itching has receded dramatically, almost disappeared, since i stopped smoking. Weird? Maybe--or maybe the liver was reacting to toxin overwork, and now relieved of the smoke, can now settle down to the hep c struggle. Don't know. I'll keep an eye on it, though.

We do welcome you. I especially welcome anyone with a sleep disorder, since here I am after midnight typing and all. So you see, there is grace in all things.

Oh, Oh, Oh. The most important message of all: Hep c is indeed a nasty little bug, but as you see from your 20 plus years of infection (I'm past 30 years), it is reeeeaaall slow-moving in most of us, giving plenty of time to study, test, learn, evaluate, and so on, before deciding to treat, not treat, leave town, whatever.

Get vaccinated for Hep A and B if you haven't already, get your good doctor and your biopsy, settle in for some long, studious winter reading, and take it from me (us), there are much worse things.

Like the Knicks, for example. (I say this in sadness, not anger. They would be better if they could.)

peace,

sean

[This message has been edited by sean (edited 01-14-2003).]





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