Managing Your Hepatitis C Symptoms While Applying for VA or Social Security Disability

It’s estimated that 3.5 million people in the U.S. are infected with hepatitis C, including over 200,000 veterans. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that an approximately 30,000 people get the hepatitis C infection (HCV) every year. HCF is spread by contact with blood of an infected person and causes the liver to scar, swell, and sometimes fail.

Often referred to as the “silent epidemic” and called an “emerging health threat,” many people don’t know they carry the infection and have never been Hepatitis C on a Chalkboarddiagnosed. This disease is the primary cause of liver cancer, cirrhosis, and liver transplants in America. 

Many people who contract hepatitis C can maintain a normal lifestyle for a long period of time; however, some suffer from serious symptoms that prevent them from working full time or sustaining gainful employment. Because this can lead to reduced salary and expensive medical bills, it’s possible to receive Social Security Disability benefits or disability benefits from the United States Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). For those seeking SS benefits, hepatitis C is covered under the Social Security Administration’s (SSA) Blue Book listing of impairments under Section 5.0. For veterans, hepatitis C is outlined in Code 7354 in the VA Schedule of Ratings. Filing for either type of disability can be challenging and time-consuming, and seeking guidance from a skilled and an experienced disability lawyer can help.

However, even if you plan to file for disability for hepatitis C, it’s important to do as much as you can to manage your symptoms and strive for good health. There are many ways that people with the infection can improve the way they feel and protect their liver from further damage. 

Live Healthier to Improve Hepatitis C Symptoms

The liver is a vital organ that serves the body as a type of “transformer.” Almost every nutrient a person consumes—every food and drink—passes through the liver. When it does, the liver transforms it into substances that can be transported to different areas of the body or stored for later use. The liver also converts toxic substances into harmless substances or ensures that the body releases them. Because the liver plays such a crucial and central role in the body’s metabolic processes, it’s important to keep it and yourself as healthy as possible, especially if you suffer from hepatitis C. Here are some tips for improved health if you have this condition:

  • Be alert for other infections. Hepatitis A and B can also damage your liver and are particularly dangerous to people who already have hepatitis C. You should ask your doctor about getting vaccinated against these two infections. Additionally, be careful about engaging in unprotected sex. 

  • Get adequate sleep. People who suffer from hepatitis C, especially those who are going through treatment, often have a more difficult time sleeping. This may not seem important, but a major symptom of hepatitis C is fatigue, and this can worsen if you’re not getting enough rest. While there’s no real way to prevent insomnia, you can help maintain better sleep at night by:

    • Keeping a regular bedtime routine: Going to bed and getting up at the same time every day

    • Keeping the temperature of your bedroom cool

    • Skipping naps

    • Avoiding large meals, exercise, and alcohol a few hours before you go to bed  

  • Know what affects the liver. When you have hepatitis C, it’s harder for your liver to break down and filter out substances that have made it to your bloodstream. Because of this, some medications, drugs, herbs, and alcohol may stay in your system for a longer period of time, and some substances pose serious risks to the liver, including:

    • Some painkillers and cold medicines with aspirin and acetaminophen can be toxic to those who have liver damage.

    • Large doses of vitamins A and D are not recommended for people with liver damage.

    • Some herbal remedies can be harmful.

    • Some over-the-counter medications may not be safe.

  • Strive to relax. For people dealing with a chronic illness, it can be a challenge to stay “up,” and feelings of anxiety and depression can be tough to fight. To stay calm and relaxed, consider massage and relaxation techniques to help your state of mind.

We Can Help

If you suffer from chronic liver disease, including hepatitis C, and it’s become debilitating, and you can no longer enjoy or participate in everyday activities or sustain gainful employment, call Cuddigan Law at (402) 933-5405. We understand how challenging it can be to apply for disability benefits for this condition, and we can help. Contact us to schedule an appointment to discuss your eligibility for Social Security or VA benefits.

 

Sean D. Cuddigan
SSA and VA Disability Attorney in Omaha, Nebraska
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