The doctor prescribes the hepatitis C therapy based on the extent of the liver damage, other health problems, amount of hepatitis C virus and the genotype. Not all patients of hepatitis C are given the treatment. Some patients are not given the medicines as they have side effects. The medicines are expensive and not effective for all patients. The patients must discuss with the doctor all the options of hepatitis C therapy. Patients who have a cirrhosis risk should take the treatment.
The Option of Treatment
If the hepatitis C infection is acute, it can be easily treated with medicines. The patient can suffer from the hepatitis infection for a long time without knowing about it as the infection does not have any symptoms.
Treatment is not given if the screening tests detect the presence of chronic hepatitis C infection but the liver damage is not there. However, if there is liver damage, the patient is given antiviral medicines. Routine blood tests should be done to check the functioning of liver.
If medicines are not given, the doctor has to watch the patient closely. Liver biopsy has to be done once in five years to find if there is a liver damage.
The Hepatitis C Treatment
The hepatitis C therapy includes hepatitis A and B vaccine. The patient is also given antiviral medicines. The treatment and its duration depend on which genotype of the hepatitis C virus is affecting the patient.
Patients who have genotype 1 are given the hepatitis C treatment for one year. The medicine is given for 24-48 weeks. The medicines for hepatitis c are pegylated interferon and ribavirin. Interferon is given intravenously, and ribavirin is given in the form of a pill.
Patients who have genotype 1 are given protease inhibitors for 6-12 months. The treatment is stopped if the patient does not improve after three months. Patients who have genotype 2 as well as 3 are given the treatment for six months.
Side Effects of the Treatment
Hepatitis C therapy has some side effects like depression and suicidal thoughts. The patient may have flu, itching, hair thinning, insomnia, nausea, fatigue, and shortness of breath. The Interferon medicine can cause bone marrow suppression, leading to leucopenia as well as anemia. There can be infection due to a decrease in the WBC or the white blood cells.
The patient can have cough, rashes and loss of appetite. Ribavirin can cause hemolysis in patients who have kidney failure. If there are any side effects, the patient must consult a doctor immediately to avoid serious complications.
If the hepatitis C infection worsens, it can lead to liver failure and the patient may need a liver transplant. A healthy liver is donated to the patient from a dead person or a living one. Antiviral medicines are given even after the liver transplant.
Immunosuppressant medicine is given so that the body does not reject the new liver. Liver transplant is not done in patients who take alcohol and share drug-injecting needles. Liver transplant is also not done in patients who suffer from mental illness such as depression.
Liver transplant is risky and expensive. Getting a donor is difficult. The hepatitis C infection can occur in the transplanted liver. If there is liver disease after the transplant, it can be serious. Most patients have a normal life after the transplant.
It is not proved that the alternative therapies provide a cure for hepatitis C. Some people take milk thistle in the form of capsule and extract for hepatitis C. You must take milk thistle after consulting a doctor about its benefits and risks.
Some patients who have hepatitis C infection feel normal while some feel tired, ill and depressed. The patient can take some home remedies for physical and emotional health. If there is tiredness, the patient must rest and take help of other people in house work. The patient must have a work schedule in his/her job that is short and flexible.
Do aerobic exercises as it increases the energy level and reduces depression. When you take the medicines, avoid strenuous activities. Sometimes, the patients have loss of appetite and nausea. You must take small meals. If you have nausea, take a big meal in the morning.
If you suffer from cirrhosis, avoid foods that are salty and contain protein. Consult a doctor if you feel depressed. Consult a dietitian for proper diet plan. Join a support group for hepatitis C patients.
Tips for Patients
Stop the intake of alcohol. Do not take medicines that are harmful to the liver. Take medicines after consulting a doctor. Adopt a healthy lifestyle. Take a healthy diet consisting of fruits and vegetables. Drink plenty of fluids. Do physical exercises and sleep properly. Do not let your blood touch other people. Cover the wounds and avoid sharing razors as well as toothbrushes. Avoid donation of blood, organs or semen.
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