Treatment Options for Hepatitis C
Hepatitis C infection in many people may not be diagnosed and treated as a person either does not experience any symptoms or they mistake the symptoms for the flu. Hepatitis C infection can cause acute or chronic hepatitis.
Treatment of acute hepatitis C infection
Antiviral medications are not needed in cases with acute hepatitis C infection. Treatment during acute illness include supportive treatment such as fluid replacement, medications to control fever, vomiting. So if you become dehydrated from vomiting or diarrhoea, you will be given IV fluids. Medications may be given to control symptoms such as fever, itching, vomiting and pain abdomen. If the symptoms are mild you may be treated at home but if the symptoms are severe you may be admitted in a hospital.
Treatment of Chronic Hepatitis C infection
Treatment isn't always necessary: Every one with chronic hepatitis C infection doesn't need treatment. You will be advised to follow-up regularly with the doctor and get blood tests done to monitor for liver problems. If the liver abnormalities are mild on blood tests you may not need treatment, because your risk of future liver problems is very low.
Antiviral medications: Antiviral medications are given to clear the virus from your body. Usually a combination of medications is prescribed which has to be taken for several weeks. After the recommended duration of treatment is completed repeat blood tests are done for hepatitis C virus. If hepatitis C is detected a second round of treatment may be started.
The combination used for treatment for chronic hepatitis C includes:
- Pegylated interferon—This is a synthetic form of a naturally found protein in the body. It helps to stimulate the immune system to attack virus cells (which is given as an injection)
- Ribavirin –it is a type of antiviral drug which controls the spread to hepatitis C virus inside the body (it is given as a capsule or tablet).
Some of the side effects of antiviral medications include depression and flu-like signs and symptoms, such as fatigue, fever and headache. In many people, side effects decrease with time, as the body gets used to the medications. If the side effects become severe or particularly troublesome the dosage of medication may need to be adjusted.
Even if the side effects bothersome trying to cope with side effects is recommended and you should continue to take medication as instructed. Missing doses or lowering dosage to minimise side effects will reduce the chances of you being cured. However if the side effects become serious treatment may have to be delayed or stopped in certain cases.
New medication: Two new antiviral medications released in 2011 for chronic hepatitis C infection are boceprevir and telaprevir. Both medications are protease inhibitors which act to block effects of enzymes that are needed by viral cells to reproduce. These medications may be useful in some people who fail to respond to conventional combination therapy.
Liver transplant: In people with severe damage to the liver may need a liver transplant. However this is not cure for hepatitis C infection, as the new liver can also get infected. Treatment with antiviral medications has to be continued following the liver transplant.
Source: Expert Content Jan 17, 2013
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