Hepatitis C infection is on the rise but many of those who have the virus that causes it, don’t even know it. This is because often the condition doesn’t have any symptoms, but it can lead to liver damage and ultimately, death. Getting treatment early is should be a priority as it can make a difference to recovery. For those who have it, here’s hepatitis C – 6 options you should know about for treatment.
Is Treatment Necessary?
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) say that between 15% – 20% who get hepatitis C will see the virus clear from their body without having need for any treatment and they won’t develop a chronic infection. The reason this is the case for some people isn’t fully understood by experts.
Acute hepatitis C can develop into chronic hepatitis C but although treatment may not always be necessary for it, taking medication can help to prevent it developing into the chronic kind. The acute type is treated with the same medication as the chronic type, but it’s still unclear as to the best treatment for the acute type and when it should be started. Doctors have a better understanding of treating chronic hepatitis C.
What are the Treatments Available?
Chronic hepatitis C is normally treated with a combination of drugs to prevent the infection causing damage to the liver. These are antiviral medicines known as interferon and ribavirin. The newer drugs developed for treatment often have less side effects and are more effective. The FDA holds a list of all approved treatments.
The length of treatment varies from person to person, but normally lasts between 24 to 48 weeks. As there can be serious side effect from some drugs, discussing options with a doctor is essential and unfortunately not everyone with chronic hepatitis C will benefit from medication.
What about a Transplant?
The next of our hepatitis C – 6 options you should know about, concerns a transplant. It’s normally the more severe cases and those in the later stages who need a liver transplant. This is a last resort and is only carried out if there’s serious liver damage caused by the virus which could lead to liver failure.
The damaged liver is replaced with a healthy one from a donor during the transplant procedure. Once completed, there’s a period of recovery and prescribed medication to make sure the new liver isn’t rejected by the body.
What are the Options for Testing?
There are several different blood tests that can be carried out for hepatitis C, the first is usually to establish if an antibody has been developed by the person. This would indicate that the person has been exposed to the virus, so a second screening would normally take place to confirm this.
A test for liver cancer may also be carried out either annually or every six months because having hepatitis C increases the risk of developing it. Regular ultrasound tests are an important part of the ongoing treatment.
What about Home Treatments?
According to the Mayo Clinic, the progression of hepatitis C can be slowed down by making some lifestyle changes:
- Avoid Alcohol. Too much alcohol can cause damage to the liver and will speed up how quickly liver disease increases. Anyone with hepatitis C should avoid alcohol.
- Avoid liver damaging medicines. There are some medicines that can have side effects including liver damage. Discussing this with a doctor will establish which prescription or over-the-counter drugs should be avoided.
- Avoid sharing. Because this virus can be transmitted through blood it’s important not to share razors, toothbrushes and for former or current injection drug users, needles. Any cuts or wounds should also be covered.
What about Alternative Treatments?
It’s easy to find many reports from people who believe various herbs can benefit liver health, but there are no confirmed alternative medicines or therapies that have been proved to successfully treat hepatitis C.
Milk thistle has been hailed by some as a treatment for liver problems, but it has not been proved. In tests it was shown to be no more effective than placebo for treating hepatitis C.
Conclusion, Hepatitis C – 6 Options You Should Know About
Of course not everyone who’s been diagnosed with the virus will gain benefit from treatment for it, but a doctor is the best person to advise on this. It may be just a case of having regular blood tests which can monitor the situation and be used to help prevent any liver damage.
Being extra cautious and practising prevention are the best ways to protect from catching it, but before any treatment it started, a doctor should be consulted. We hope you enjoyed reading hepatitis C – 6 options you should know about and if so, please share this article.