How to Deal With Hepatitis-Related Fatigue

Lifestyle and medication fixes may improve energy levels

Fatigue is a common problem for people who have hepatitis. Whether it is brought on directly by liver disease or is the side effect of medication, sufferers may feel extremely tired even after a full night of sleep. According to a 2012 study in the Journal of Hepatology, 53% of people with hepatitis C experience some level of fatigue. Another study published in July 2019 showed that fatigue was a significant problem for people with chronic hepatitis B.

Fatigue can range from mild to severe and can affect every area of life. Some people experience constant fatigue while others experience cycles of fatigue.

woman looking tired sitting on sofa
Tara Moore / Getty Images

Self-Help Tips

Dealing with fatigue requires patience since there are no easy solutions. However, these are things you can do to help control it.

  • Exercise regularly. Moderate exercise is a good way to help control fatigue. Maybe it seems a little odd to exercise when you're tired, but it is helpful for many people.
  • Eat healthy, balanced meals. A balanced diet is an excellent way to help manage fatigue. Start with the basic principles of what to eat if you have chronic hepatitis.
  • Pace yourself. Prioritize your day by doing essential activities first and then start other tasks as your energy level allows.
  • Improve your sleep hygiene. Plan for regular, consistent amounts of sleep every night.
  • Take afternoon naps. Regular 30-minute naps can be a big boost to your day and help manage fatigue.
  • Learn to relax. In today's hectic pace, activities like yoga and meditation are extremely popular. You don't need to be a stressed-out business executive to benefit from these relaxation techniques.

Treatment Options

It is a good idea to report fatigue to your healthcare provider, however mild it may be. This is especially true for people with cirrhosis, who are 23% more likely to experience fatigue than those with mild to moderate liver impairment, and those on hepatitis C treatment, 78% of whom will experience some level of fatigue.

Even though some level of fatigue is unavoidable with liver disease, there are ways your practitioner may be able to help.

  • Treat your hepatitis. Your fatigue usually will significantly decrease if you can achieve a sustained virologic response.
  • Diagnose and treat anemia. Since anemia is a possible cause of fatigue, your healthcare provider can determine if this is an underlying concern. Anemia occurs when the blood lacks enough healthy red blood cells.
  • Explore other causes. In addition to treating hepatitis C, your practitioner should diagnose and treat other conditions that cause fatigue, such as thyroid disease. Hepatitis C can amplify hormonal imbalances in people with thyroid disease, a situation that can often be remedied with an adjustment of thyroid medication doses.
  • Prescribe sleep medications. Sleeping pills can help, but healthcare providers must use careful judgment here because the liver is usually responsible for breaking down drugs in the body. Any benefit from the medication must be weighed against the possible risks of liver toxicity and damage.

In general, healthcare providers can search for other treatable causes of fatigue. This may require blood tests, a complete physical examination and ask you a lot of questions about your symptoms.

2 Sources
Verywell Health uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. Sarkar S, Jiang Z, Evon DM, Wahed AS, Hoofnagle JH. Fatigue before, during and after antiviral therapy of chronic hepatitis C: results from the Virahep-C study. J Hepatol. 2012;57(5):946-52. doi:10.1016/j.jhep.2012.06.030

  2. Ferri C, Colaci M, Fallahi P, Ferrari SM, Antonelli A, Giuggioli D. Thyroid involvement in hepatitis C virus-infected patients with/without mixed cryoglobulinemia. Front Endocrinol (Lausanne). 2017;8:159. doi:10.3389/fendo.2017.00159

By Charles Daniel
 Charles Daniel, MPH, CHES is an infectious disease epidemiologist, specializing in hepatitis.