Treating Hepatitis A B C: Id Care Infectious Disease Doctors
According to Dr. Aslam, ID Cares unique experience treating chronic illnesses like HIV is what sets us apart. We identify the risk factors, diagnose the strains, and do a lot of community teaching where our patients live. Some of the hepatitis patients were trying to help are IV drug users. Because of our experience treating people with HIV, we have a lot of community and healthcare connections, and we can help patients get into detox and recovery programs to break habits that raise the risk for hepatitis B and C.
Sometimes, the complex antiviral medicines used for hepatitis B and C can interact with other drugs, and some patients are resistant to their effects. Interestingly, some people who have hepatitis B or C along with HIV may be prescribed hepatitis medications that can affect their HIV as well. If you have both the diseases, a combination treatment is best, otherwise, patients can develop resistance, warned Dr. Aslam, adding that close monitoring is key in these cases.
Difficult, multi-disease scenarios do happen, and according to Dr. Aslam, ID Care is better trained, equipped, and experienced to detect and address the complications, drug interactions, and side issues like drug dependence, depression, and substance abuse that can interfere with successful treatment. We provide a uniquely high level of care to our patients with viral hepatitis and related problems.
Antiviral Medication For Hepatitis C
For people with hepatitis C, the goal of treatment with antiviral medication is to prevent the virus from replicating, or copying itself, and to eliminate the virus from the bloodstream. If the hepatitis C virus has been in the body for more than six months, the infection is considered chronic. Without treatment, most people with acute hepatitis C develop the chronic form of the disease.
Your doctor decides which antiviral medicationor combination of medicationsto prescribe based on the results of a blood test called a genotype test. There are six genotypes, or strains, of the hepatitis C virus, and people with certain genotypes respond more quickly to medical treatment.
For many years, the standard treatment for chronic hepatitis C consisted of the antiviral medications pegylated interferon and ribavirin. Ribavirin is taken by mouth every day, and interferon is an injection that you or a caregiver can administer once a week at home.
In 2013 and 2014, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved a group of new medications for the treatment of hepatitis C. These medications, which include sofosbuvir, are very effective and have fewer side effects than older medications, particularly interferon.
Hepatitis C Treatment: Lifestyle Changes And Vaccines
There are also lifestyle changes you should make if you are diagnosed. If you are diagnosed with hepatitis C, you should:
- Discontinue alcohol consumption immediately. The combination of alcohol with hepatitis C is particularly dangerous for many patients.
- Maintain a healthy weight. Obesity can speed the progression of liver scarring.
- Get vaccinated against hepatitis A and B if you are not already immune, There are currently no vaccines for hepatitis C.
Recommended Reading: Where Do I Get A Hepatitis A Vaccine
How Do Doctors Treat Autoimmune Hepatitis
Doctors treat autoimmune hepatitis with medicines that suppress, or decrease the activity of, your immune system, reducing your immune systems attack on your liver. The medicines doctors most often prescribe are corticosteroidsprednisone or prednisolonewith or without another medicine called azathioprine.
Doctors typically start with a relatively high dose of corticosteroids and then gradually lower the dose. Your doctor will try to find the lowest dose that works for you. Your doctor will use blood tests to find out how you are responding to the treatment. A decrease in levels of the liver enzymes alanine transaminase and aspartate transaminase shows a response to treatment. ALT and AST falling to normal levels shows a full response. In some cases, a doctor may repeat a liver biopsy to confirm the response to treatment and find out whether the damage has resolved.
Treatment can relieve symptoms and prevent or reverse liver damage in many people with autoimmune hepatitis. Early treatment of autoimmune hepatitis can lower the chances of developing cirrhosis and other complications. A minority of people who have no symptoms or only a mild form of the disease may or may not need medicines.
The Hepatitis B Vaccine
Getting the hepatitis B vaccine is one of the most effective ways to prevent hepatitis B. Its usually administered in two, three, or four doses. In many countries, infants receive their first dose of the vaccine at birth.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that infants receive their first dose of the vaccine at birth and finish all doses at 6 to 18 months old.
The CDC also recommends all children under the age of 19 years old be vaccinated if they havent already received the vaccination.
Adults can also get the hepatitis B vaccine. The vaccine is generally recommended if you have an increased risk of contracting the virus. Some of these risk factors include:
- traveling to or living in a region where hepatitis B is common
- being sexually active with more than one partner or with a partner who has hepatitis B
- working in a medical setting or other workplaces where youre exposed to bodily fluids
- using intravenous drugs and sharing drug equipment
- having chronic liver disease, a human immunodeficiency virus infection, a hepatitis C infection, diabetes, or kidney disease on dialysis
If youve been exposed to the hepatitis B virus and havent been vaccinated, try to see a doctor right away. They can administer the first dose of the vaccine, though youll need to follow up to receive the remaining doses over the next few months.
They may also prescribe a medication called
Read Also: What Do You Do If You Have Hepatitis C
Possible Complications Of Hepatitis A
Hepatitis A can cause more serious health problems. Keep in mind all that these are rare and more likely to happen in people who are over 50.
- Cholestatic hepatitis. Occuring in about 5% of patients, this means the bile in your liver is obstructed on its way to the gallbladder. It can cause changes in your blood and result in jaundice fever and weightloss
- Relapsing hepatitus. More common in the elderly, The symptoms of liver inflamation such as jaundice, reoccur periodlically but are not chronic.
- Autoimmune hepatitis. this triggers your own body to attack the liver. If left untreated, it could result in chronic liver disease, cirrhosis and ultimately liver failure.
- Liver failure. Happens in less than 1% and this usually affects people who are:
- Already have another type of liver disease
- Have a weakened immune system
If your doctor feels your liver isnât working well, they may admit you to the hospital to keep an eye on how well your liver is working. In severe cases, you might need to have a liver transplant.
Is There A Way To Prevent Hepatitis C
Although currently theres no vaccine to protect people from contracting hepatitis C, there are vaccines for other hepatitis viruses, including hepatitis A and hepatitis B.
If you receive a hepatitis C diagnosis, your healthcare provider may advise you to get vaccinated against hepatitis A and B.
The vaccinations are recommended because these hepatitis viruses can lead to additional health and liver complications, especially in those with preexisting liver disease.
Since you cant prevent hepatitis C through a vaccine, the best prevention is to avoid exposure. Hepatitis C is a bloodborne pathogen, so you can limit your chances of exposure through these healthy lifestyle practices:
- Avoid sharing needles, razor blades, or nail clippers.
- Use proper safety precautions if youll be exposed to bodily fluids, such as when performing first aid.
- Hepatitis C isnt usually transmitted through sexual contact, but its possible. Limit your exposure by practicing sex with a condom or other barrier method. Its also important to openly communicate with sexual partners and to get tested if you suspect youve been exposed to the hepatitis C virus.
Because hepatitis C is transmitted through blood, its possible to contract it through a blood transfusion.
However, since the early 1990s, blood product screening tests have been standard protocol for minimizing the risk of this type of transmission.
Subsequent testing is based on risk. Talk to your doctor about your needs.
Read Also: Hepatitis C Genotype 1b Treatment
Abcs Of Hepatitis: Who Is Most At Risk
The ABCs of Hepatitis reveal that for hep A, those most at risk are travelers to areas where the disease is prevalent.
For hep B, high-risk groups include homeless people, men who have sex with men, incarcerated people, and drug users. Having multiple sex partners or unprotected sex can also be a risk. Blood products can transmit the disease, but not so much in the U.S., due to routine screening of donated blood.
For hepatitis C in the U.S., Dr. Aslam said, IV drug use and needle sharing are the big causes. If you got a blood transfusion or an organ transplant before 1992, when hepatitis virus screening began, you should get tested because you are at higher risk.
What Do I Need To Know About Having Hepatitis B
If you have chronic hepatitis B, getting the right medical care can help you stay healthy. Taking good care of your liver is important. Talk with your doctor before you take any prescription medication, over-the-counter drugs, vitamins, or nutritional supplements to make sure they wont hurt your liver. You should also stay away from alcohol, because drinking can damage your liver.
How Is Acute Hepatitis B Treated
Acute hepatitis B doesnt always require treatment. Most of the time, a doctor or healthcare professional will recommend monitoring your symptoms and getting regular blood tests to determine whether the virus is still in your body.
While you recover, allow your body to rest and drink plenty of fluids to help your body fight off the infection. You can also take an over-the-counter pain reliever to help with any abdominal pain you have. Speak with a doctor about which medications can help your symptoms.
See a doctor if your symptoms are severe or seem to be getting worse. You may need to take a prescription antiviral medication to avoid potential liver damage.
Like acute hepatitis B, chronic hepatitis B may not require medical treatment to avoid permanent liver damage. For some people, monitoring their symptoms and getting regular liver tests is an appropriate care regimen.
Treatment generally involves antiviral medications, such as:
- peginterferon alfa-2a injections
- antiviral tablets, such as tenofovir or entecavir
Antiviral medications can help to reduce your symptoms and prevent liver damage, but they rarely completely get rid of the hepatitis B virus. Instead, the goal of treatment is for you to have the lowest viral load possible. Viral load refers to the amount of a virus in a blood sample.
You can lower your risk of developing hepatitis B or spreading the virus to others by:
Are Alternative Medicines Available
Some people believe certain forms of alternative medicine help cure hepatitis C.
However, the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health reports that there are no effective, research-proven forms of alternative treatment or complementary medicine for hepatitis C.
Silymarin, also known as milk thistle, is an herb commonly suggested to help cure hepatitis C liver disease. But a rigorous did not find any beneficial effects from this supplement.
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What Are The Symptoms Of Hepatitis
Some people with hepatitis do not have symptoms and do not know they are infected. If you do have symptoms, they may include:
- Jaundice, yellowing of your skin and eyes
If you have an acute infection, your symptoms can start anywhere between 2 weeks to 6 months after you got infected. If you have a chronic infection, you may not have symptoms until many years later.
What About Patients With Hepatitis C Who Also Have Hepatitis B
Hepatitis B virus can flare in patients who are co-infected with hepatitis B and hepatitis C and are taking medication for hepatitis C. This has been reported as a potential risk for patients who are taking hepatitis C treatment and have underlying hepatitis B as well. The flare usually occurs within a few weeks after the patient starts taking medication for hepatitis C. Therefore, patients who have both hepatitis B and hepatitis C should be seen by a hepatitis expertbeforestarting treatment of the hepatitis C they may need to start taking hepatitis B treatment to avoid a hepatitis B flare.
Recommended Reading: What Is The Best Treatment For Autoimmune Hepatitis
Prevalence Of Hepatitis In Usa And New Jersey
In its 2019 Viral Hepatitis Surveillance Report, the CDC estimates that 37,700 acute cases of HAV occurred, as well as 20,700 cases of HBV, and 57,500 cases of HCV. Between 2015 and 2019, hepatitis A infections increased by a whopping 1,325%. Roughly a million people in the U.S. are currently living with the hepatitis B virus, and about three million have hepatitis C. Because viral hepatitis transmission correlates with illicit drug use, in areas and age groups where opioid use is high, rates of hepatitis are also elevated.
Dr. Aslam explained that the focus for us is on hepatitis C, mostly because we can treat it, cure it, and eliminate it. While this disease is common in New Jersey, the state doesnt rank in the CDCs top 10 according to incidence.
What Can People Do To Help The Medications Work Best
- Take the medications every day
- Stay in touch with pharmacy to be sure that all refills are ready on time
- Take the medications exactly as prescribed
- Do not skip doses
- Get all blood tests done on time
- Go to all visits with providers as recommended
- Tell the provider about all other medications that are being taken – including over-the-counter medicines, vitamins, herbs, and supplements
- Complete the entire course of medication
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Causes Of Noninfectious Hepatitis
Although hepatitis is most commonly the result of an infection, other factors can cause the condition.
Alcohol and other toxins
The alcohol directly injures the cells of your liver. Over time, it can cause permanent damage and lead to thickening or scarring of liver tissue and liver failure.
Other toxic causes of hepatitis include misuse of medications and exposure to toxins.
Autoimmune system response
In some cases, the immune system mistakes the liver as harmful and attacks it. This causes ongoing inflammation that can range from mild to severe, often hindering liver function. Itâs three times more common in women than in men.
What Are Hepatitis Cs Causes And Symptoms
According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, per healthline.com, the hepatitis C virus is most commonly transferred from one person to another via the sharing of needles .
Using someone elses razor, toothbrush, and even nail clippers also carries a hepatitis C risk, although casual contact such as hugging, or holding or shaking hands, isnt believed to pass the virus from one person to another. Theres also about a 4 percent chance that a mother infected with hepatitis C will pass the virus on to her baby, per healthline.com.
If and when the hepatitis C virus becomes active in a persons body and the incubation period can be as long as 15 years, per ayushremedies.in symptoms can include the following, per livealittlelonger.com. Some of these can often be overlooked or rationalized away because they are also typical of the flu:
- Loss of appetite
- Other symptoms can include bruising or bleeding easily, diarrhea, joint pain, weight loss, itchy skin, and confusion.
If you suspect you have the disease, its vital that you see a doctor immediately for proper diagnosis and a plan for treatment and prescription medications , if needed. A simple blood test can tell you if you have hepatitis C.
If caught early enough, any related damage to your liver which happens to be your bodys biggest gland, per ayushremedies.in is reversible. Its also important to know that hepatitis C is the leading cause of liver cancer, per draxe.com.
Also Check: Hepatitis B Vaccine For Newborns
Treatment Options For Hepatitis B
People living with chronic hepatitis B infection should expect to live a long and healthy life. There are decisions people can make to protect their livers such as seeing a liver specialist or health care provider regularly, avoiding alcohol and tobacco, and eating healthy foods. There are also approved drugs for both adults and children that control the hepatitis B virus, which helps reduce the risk of developing more serious liver disease, but there is still no complete cure.
Current treatments for hepatitis B fall into two general categories:
- Immune modulator Drugs These are interferon-type drugs that boost the immune system to help get rid of the hepatitis B virus. They are given as a shot over 6 months to 1 year.
- Antiviral Drugs These are drugs that stop or slow down the hepatitis B virus from reproducing, which reduces the inflammation and damage of your liver. These are taken as a pill once a day for at least 1 year and usually longer.
It is important to know that not everyone with chronic hepatitis B infection needs to be treated. This can be difficult to accept when first diagnosed because taking a drug to get rid of the virus seems like the first step to getting better. Current treatments, however, are generally found to be most effective in those who show signs of active liver disease .
Hepatitis B Drug Watch
Visit the HBF Drug Watch for a complete list of the approved treatments for hepatitis B and promising new drugs in development.