Hepatitis C: An In-Depth Guide

 

Lowered red blood cell count (anemia)

Red blood cells (erythrocytes) transport oxygen to body tissues. If your body's tissues don't get enough oxygen, your body won't be able to stay healthy. A low red blood cell count is called anemia. This condition may cause extreme tiredness, weakness and shortness of breath. Sometimes this causes a person to feel faint or dizzy, have a dry cough and have a rapid heart rate.

See your healthcare provider to get a blood test called a complete blood count (CBC), which measures red cells, white cells and platelets.

Cause

Ribavirin can interfere with the production of red blood cells resulting in anemia.

 

Treatment

  • Your healthcare provider may reduce the dose of ribavirin.

Tips

See your healthcare provider to get a blood test called a complete blood count (CBC), which measures red cells, white cells and platelets.

Your healthcare provider may send you to a laboratory for a blood test to check if you are deficient in any of the following red cell production factors. If so, taking the appropriate supplement may help with anemia.

  • Folic acid.
  • Vitamin B12.
  • Iron (absorption of iron may be enhanced by taking vitamin C). However, an iron supplement should be avoided if you have cirrhosis.

Changes to your diet may help:

  • Seeds (for example, sunflower, pumpkin and sesame) are a source of energy and will help with the tiredness caused by anemia.
  • Your healthcare provider may advise you to eat more red meat, especially beef and liver, because it is rich in iron. Eating shellfish and the dark meat of poultry (for example, turkey and chicken) may also raise your iron levels. Other foods that are good sources of iron include dark green leafy vegetables (for example, spinach or kale), peanuts, eggs, beans and dried fruits (for example, raisins).