Help for Hep: Caring for Someone with Hepatitis

With World Hepatitis Day this month, we thought this was a great time to talk about the illness. So, if you’ve ever wondered ‘How can I care for someone with hepatitis’ - read on to find out.


With World Hepatitis Day this month, we thought this was a great time to talk about the illness. So, if you’ve ever wondered ‘How can I care for someone with hepatitis’ - read on to find out.

Before we get to our tips, however, it’s crucial to establish...

What is hepatitis?

Hepatitis is an inflammation of the liver caused either by a viral illness or a regular high level of alcohol intake. It can cause severe liver disease and cancer, and one person dies on average from a hepatitis-related illness every 30 seconds.

On top of that, hepatitis is also incredibly infectious. That’s why the World Health Organisation runs a campaign for World Hepatitis Day annually each July. Suffice it to say, caring for someone with hepatitis is never easy.

There are seven types of hepatitis, but the three most common viral forms are as follows:

  • Hepatitis A is present in faeces and can be spread through consumption of contaminated water or food due to poor personal bathroom hygiene
  • Hepatitis B can be transmitted through exposure to an infected person’s bodily fluids
  • Hepatitis C is the most common form of hepatitis and is primarily spread through exposure to blood from an infected person. It can also be transmitted via sexual contact.

Hepatitis types D-G are incredibly rare, so for the purposes of this article we’ll be focusing on the first three forms.

What are the symptoms of hepatitis?

A woman clutching her side feeling liver pain

The physical signs of hepatitis A-C don’t usually show up until the illness has progressed enough to cause significant liver damage. If it does get to that stage, all three strains share many common symptoms. These include:

  • General flu-like symptoms
  • Jaundice (a yellowing of the skin)
  • Nausea and sometimes vomiting
  • High temperature
  • Fatigue and muscle aches
  • Itchiness in certain areas of the body.

Additionally, Hep C has been known to cause a foggy-headed confusion.

Is there a cure for hepatitis?

There are vaccines for viral hepatitis A and B that can help protect anyone who catches the virus, but there is no cure for either form. The body can, however, often clear Hep A on its own within two months without treatment, and can occasionally clear Hep B with help from medicine. This makes prevention extremely important in both cases.

Conversely, there is a 95% success rate cure for hepatitis C but no vaccine. For this reason, Hep C tends to get the lion’s share of research funding and is by far the most talked-about of the three, despite hepatitis B being potentially the most serious and life-threatening.

How to care for someone with hepatitis

There are many ways to help someone with hepatitis, but any responsible advice also needs to consider the viral form’s highly contagious nature.

As such, we’ll focus here on how to care for someone with hepatitis while protecting yourself.

Looking after your loved one

Being ill is draining at the best of times, and the liver damage caused by hepatitis – together with the increased risk of cancer that it brings – can be especially trying for someone diagnosed with it. Especially when they don’t know how bad the damage is, or how it may affect them down the line. So, when caring for someone with hepatitis, our suggestions are to:

  • Find out all you can about their specific type of hepatitis so you have an idea of what they’re experiencing – both physically, and in terms of their worries about the future
  • Go with your loved one to doctor’s appointments and let them know you’re there to support them
  • Set regular reminders on your phone or an alarm on your watch to help you remind them to take any prescribed medication
  • Make sure they steer clear of alcohol: or at the very least, ensure they don’t exceed one unit per day
  • Prepare balanced meals for them, including a healthy mix of fruits and vegetables
  • Try and get your loved one out of the house once or twice a week for light exercise to help boost their immune system.

A carer helps an elderly lady walk about the house

Protecting yourself

While caring for your loved one is hugely important, it’s vital to consider that viral hepatitis is incredibly infectious. You’ll therefore want to protect yourself from having it spread to you and other people you love. With that in mind, make sure you:

  • Get vaccinated to protect yourself from the higher-than-normal chance you might contract hepatitis yourself
  • Wash your hands and use hand sanitiser regularly
  • Keep yourself covered when you clean: wear gloves, keep skin protected and put a plaster or bandage on any cuts or abrasions immediately
  • Use bleach or another similar cleaning product: Hep B and C can live on dry surfaces for up to 10 and four days respectively. Wiping down surfaces with proper cleaning products will kill the virus before it can infect anyone else. (A solution of one-part bleach to ten parts water is especially potent).
  • Dispose of all wipes, tissues and paper towels promptly and safely.

Additionally, we know from first-hand experience that being a caregiver can be exhausting. So, you’ll also want to protect yourself from caregiver burnout.

  • Get as much rest as possible: eight hours of sleep a night will work wonders for your energy levels and patience
  • Exercise regularly: just like the person you’re caring for, a regular exercise routine will boost your endorphins and help support your immune system
  • Connect with others and seek support: reaching out to someone who understands the stresses you’re under as a carer can go a long way to relieving the pressure and preserving your mental health
  • Follow the other tips in our blog on avoiding carer’s fatigue*: including expressing your creative side, and taking time out where possible to focus on your own goals.

Need extra help caring for someone with hepatitis?

Our Bluebirds are trained to care for people dealing with many different illnesses. They keep our customers' company, encourage them to get out and about, and give prompt medication reminders – making sure they keep a log of every pill taken, or cream applied, on their watch.

So, if you’re looking for ways to help someone with hepatitis without it taking over your life, take a look at our home care page, then get in touch with us to see how we can lend a helping hand.


*This blog may be about helping someone with dementia, but the self-care advice is just as relevant to being a carer for someone with hepatitis!