Treatment For Hepatitis C

What Is Hepatitis?

The word Hepatitis is a term used to define inflammation of the liver. Infection, exposure to alcohol, medications, chemicals, poisons, or other toxins that are absorbed by the liver can cause inflammation. Hepatitis C virus (HCV), the cause of Hepatitis C, is a virus, which causes inflammation of the liver. If the inflammation is not reversed, it can become chronic and cause chronic liver disease, which is not only very serious, but can also be fatal.

Hepatitis C is a growing concern in many countries and is one of the most common causes of chronic liver disease worldwide. Believed to be the cause of nearly one-fifth of all new cases of viral hepatitis, it is also linked to 50 percent of all cases of cirrhosis, liver cancer, and end-stage liver disease.

Treating Hepatitis C At Home

If symptoms of Hepatitis are present, then a blood test will confirm whether the virus is active in the body. There are some things a person can do at home to relieve symptoms in cases that do not require hospitalization. Rest is very important and taking it easy helps to conserve energy and allow for healing. Since dehydration is a common side effect of the disease, drinking many fluids is necessary. Alcohol, beer, and wine are all dehydrating so abstention from drinking these types of beverages is advised. Drugs containing acetaminophen have been proven to harm to the liver. Such drugs as Tylenol and those containing acetaminophen should be avoided. Until the symptoms begin to improve, prolonged, intense exercise should also be avoided.

When Medical Treatment Is Necessary

Treatment by a medical professional may include a prescription for IV fluids in the event of dehydration. The symptoms of nausea and vomiting may be treated with specific medications. Provided the symptoms are well controlled, a person may be treated at home. If, however, there are signs of delirium or severe dehydration, then hospitalization will be necessary.

There is a treatment available for Hepatitis C, which has been very effective. Pegylated interferon alpha is available under the names Pegasys and PEG-Intron. The treatment combines this drug with an antiviral called ribavirin, marketed as Virzole. A gastroenterologist or hepatologist (liver specialist) will determine if the drugs are to be used for treatment after proper testing is done. Lab tests to determine liver function, tests for HCV and a liver biopsy as well as the individual's age and general health are all considerations taken into account before administering these drugs.

Restrictions And Treatment Times

Certain medical conditions prevent the use of interferon such as drugs used to treat neurological disorders and depression; active alcohol or drug use; autoimmune diseases (rheumatoid arthritis, psoriasis, lupus); anemia; cirrhosis of the liver that is severe (causing jaundice, wasting, swelling or mental disturbances.

Most people tolerate the drugs fairly well and the combination of interferon alpha and ribavirin works better than using interferon by itself. Depending upon the strain of virus, the duration of treatment may be anywhere from 24 to 48 weeks. A period when no treatment is given follows, and the situation is assessed to determine whether further medication will be necessary.


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