Hepatitis C Treatments
Hepatitis C, known vernacularly as “hep C”, is a disease that predominantly infects the liver. Chronic hep C can cause liver cirrhosis (severe scarring) and lethal varices (lethally enlarged veins) in the stomach and esophagus, liver failure and even liver cancer. Caused by the hepatitis C virus (HCV), the disease is usually spread via blood-to-blood contact.
About 150 million people worldwide are hep C patients, a disease only hypothesized in the 1970s and scientifically confirmed in 1989. Most cases of hep C are attributed to unsterilized needles and unsafe blood transfusions. There is currently no available vaccine to protect against hep C, so vigilant awareness should be paid to the avoidance of unsterilized medical equipment and intravenous drug usage.
Many people are fortunately unaware that they have contracted hep C because the disease is frequently asymptomatic. While about 85% of affected hep C patients experience liver involvement, 30-50% do not develop chronic infections. For those that do develop chronic infections, the following is a list of treatment options available for them:
If patients develop severe liver cirrhosis, they may require liver transplants. Most liver transplants are done for hep C patients with severe cirrhosis. Liver transplantation is not a total cure for hep C, as these patients usually experience hep C recurrence in their new livers. Therefore, patients typically continue treatment with antiviral medications after liver transplants.
Hep C Drugs
A commonly prescribed drug combination regimen is the pegylated interferon alpha drug, known as peginterferon alpha, and the antiviral drug, known as ribavirin. Usually these drugs are taken together for 24 weeks among patients with HCV genotype 1 and for 48 weeks among those with HCV genotypes 2, 3, 4 and 6. Boceprevir or telaprevir may be added to the combination to improve the antiviral attack on the hep C infection. Drug therapy is more effective when done during the first six months of infection than it is once the disease becomes a chronic infection. If the hep C infection is still present after treatment, a second course of treatment may be prescribed. Symptoms caused by antiviral drugs include depression, flu-like symptoms such as fever, fatigue, and headache.
An herb known as milk thistle boosts liver health and is therefore recommended for people with jaundice and other liver maladies. Although it has not yet been proven to help treat hep C, milk thistle is recommended as a natural remedy for hep C patients with liver involvement.
Those with hep C should take precautionary steps to ensure that they do not spread the disease to any person. Sharing toothbrushes, razors and needles should be avoided. Also, it is important to always cover scrapes and abrasions to the skin. Additionally, hep C patients should not donate or share blood, semen or organs. As alcohol speeds-up the succession of HCV, patients are advised to refrain from drinking alcoholic beverages. Maintaining a healthy lifestyle with regular exercise, adequate sleep and a healthy diet is helpful in avoiding diseases and infections. Talk to your doctor today to discuss the best course of treatment for your hepatitis C.