Liver Hepatitis C Treatment

Although no definitive cure has been found for hepatitis C, many individuals with chronic hepatitis C can benefit from treatment. Despite the possibility of hepatitis C treatment side effects, various treatment options and lifestyle modifications may preserve liver function and reduce the effects of the virus on the body.

Hepatitis C Treatment: Antiviral Drugs

Antiviral drugs treat hepatitis C by clearing the virus from the body. Alpha interferon is a substance produced by the body in response to the presence of a virus. Some doctors treat hepatitis C with synthetic interferon, which is injected under the skin.

Ribavarin, an oral antiviral medication, is often used in combination with interferon to supplement its effects. Combination therapy of antiviral drugs is used to treat hepatitis C for several months, and can reduce the virus count in affected individuals. Based on your specific level of infection, contraindications, and potential complications, your doctor can determine whether antiviral therapy is appropriate for you.

Antiviral drugs can be effective in clearing the hepatitis C virus from the body. However, they can also come with treatment side effects, which can be severe for some people. These can include:

  • Depression
  • Fatigue
  • Fever
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Weight loss.

Hepatitis C Treatment: Liver Transplant

Hepatitis C can lead to liver inflammation that can cause a buildup of scar tissue in the liver called cirrhosis, which impedes liver function. The body can’t survive without a functioning liver to help it use nutrients and remove waste. In cases of severe liver damage from the hepatitis C virus, a liver transplant may be necessary. During the liver transplant process, the damaged liver is removed and replaced with a new liver from a donor. A liver transplant itself doesn’t cure hepatitis C, however; antiviral drugs must still be used to rid the body of the virus.

Hepatitis C Treatment: Other Options

If you have hepatitis C, contracting other forms of hepatitis can worsen complications and affect treatment. Your doctor may recommend vaccinations for hepatitis A and hepatitis B.

Hepatitis C is notoriously difficult to treat. As such, researchers continue to investigate new, more effective hepatitis C treatments. Future hepatitis C treatments may focus on preventing virus replication or protecting cells from viral attack.

Individuals with hepatitis C are advised against using certain substances that might stress the liver. Avoid alcohol, and check with your doctor before taking any prescription or over-the counter drugs.

Finally, not all cases require hepatitis C treatment. An acute hepatitis C infection can resolve on its own with minor lifestyle modifications, including adequate nutrition, fluids and rest. Even if you have chronic hepatitis C, your doctor may determine that the virus is having a mild effect on your body, and your risk of liver damage is low.

Resources

American Academy of Family Physicians. (2010). Hepatitis C. Retrieved October 1, 2010, from http://familydoctor.org/online/famdocen/home/common/infections/hepatitis/071.html#ArticleParsysMiddleColumn0010.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2009). Morbidity and mortality weekly report: Surveillance for acute viral hepatitis–United states, 2007. Retrieved October 1, 2010, from http://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/PDF/ss/ss5803.pdf.

Mayo Clinic. (2009). Hepatitis C. Retrieved October 1, 2010, from http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/hepatitis-c/DS00097.

National Digestive Diseases Information Clearinghouse. (2006). Chronic hepatitis C: Current disease management. Retrieved October 1, 2010, from http://digestive.niddk.nih.gov/ddiseases/pubs/chronichepc/#g.