In earlier presentations, we discussed a few of the unwanted side effects that people frequently experience when taking combination therapy. By now, you may have experienced some of these side effects. At today's visit, please talk to your healthcare providers about any side effects you are experiencing.
Some of the more common side effects include:
• Flu-like symptoms
• Nausea, vomiting, and loss of appetite
• Skin irritation or rashes, especially at the injection site
• Decreased blood cell counts
• Weight loss
• Depression, mood swings, and irritability, and
• Temporary hair loss.
Most of these side effects are mild to moderate in severity, meaning that they can be easily treated by you or your healthcare provider. They are usually worse during the first few weeks of treatment, especially after the first injection. After that, the side effects often get better.
If your side effects become too severe, your healthcare provider may have to reduce the dose of your medications. About 30 to 40 percent of patients will need to have their peginterferon and/or ribavirin doses reduced. However, even with a reduced dose, people can and do respond to therapy.
There are some other side effects that are less common, but are still important to know about. Be sure to let your healthcare provider know right away if you:
• Have any unusual bleeding or bruising,
• Feel tightness in your chest or have trouble breathing,
• Are experiencing severe stomach pain,
• Have any changes in your vision,
• Feel very depressed or hopeless,
• Have thoughts of hurting yourself or others, or
• Any other feelings that don't seem normal.
These conditions can be serious, and you may need additional treatment.
Remember that you and your healthcare providers are working together as a team, so be open and honest as you're talking about your treatment. Your providers can give you ideas for dealing with any problems you may be having, and help you along the way.
To learn more about some of the common side effects and different strategies for dealing with them, please choose from the topics listed on the next screen.