How Do Doctors Treat Hepatitis C
Doctors treat hepatitis C with antiviral medicines that attack the virus and can cure the disease in most cases.
Several newer medicines, called direct-acting antiviral medicines, have been approved to treat hepatitis C since 2013. Studies show that these medicines can cure chronic hepatitis C in most people with this disease. These medicines can also cure acute hepatitis C. In some cases, doctors recommend waiting to see if an acute infection becomes chronic before starting treatment.
Your doctor may prescribe one or more of these newer, direct-acting antiviral medicines to treat hepatitis C:
You may need to take medicines for 8 to 24 weeks to cure hepatitis C. Your doctor will prescribe medicines and recommend a length of treatment based on
- which hepatitis C genotype you have
- how much liver damage you have
- whether you have been treated for hepatitis C in the past
Your doctor may order blood tests during and after your treatment. Blood tests can show whether the treatment is working. Hepatitis C medicines cure the infection in most people who complete treatment.
Hepatitis C medicines may cause side effects. Talk with your doctor about the side effects of treatment. Check with your doctor before taking any other prescription or over-the-counter medicines.
You Have Dry Eyes And Cotton Mouth
If all this isnt enough to worry about, hepatitis C has also been associated with dry eyes and mouth, Dr. Khaderi says. These complications are collectively referred to as sicca symptoms. Its not totally clear why it happens, but research suggests it may be due to the immune response thats triggered by the chronic inflammation in the body, as well as how HCV impacts the salivary glands.
Is There A Cure
Though there is no vaccine for Hepatitis C, treatments can reduce the viral load to undetectable levels which is considered cured or in remission.
The virus is considered cured when it is not detected in your blood 12 weeks after treatment is completed. This is otherwise known as a sustained virologic response .
Hepatitis C is one of the most serious hepatitis viruses. However, with newer treatments developed over the past few years, the virus is much more manageable than it was in the past.
Current antiviral drugs that help cure hepatitis C may also help prevent the health complications of chronic liver disease.
The reports less than half of people who contract the hepatitis C virus may clear it from their bodies without treatment. For this group of people, the virus will be a short-term acute condition that goes away without treatment.
But for most people, acute hepatitis C will likely develop into a chronic condition that requires treatment.
Since the virus often doesnt produce symptoms until after more significant liver damage occurs, its important to get tested for hepatitis C if you think you might have been exposed.
approved the antiviral drug Mavyret for an 8-week treatment period for people with all genotypes of hepatitis C.
This treatment is now being used for many people instead of the 12-week treatment that was previously required.
Noninvasive ways to test for liver damage caused by hepatitis C are also now available to aid in diagnosis.
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Detoxing Your Liver: Fact Versus Fiction
Tinsay Ambachew Woreta, M.D., M.P.H
Your liver represents the human bodys primary filtration system, converting toxins into waste products, cleansing your blood, and metabolizing nutrients and medications to provide the body with some of its most important proteins. As such a fundamental part of the bodys overall regulation, its paramount to keep your liver healthy and to limit overindulgence.
In recent years, many products have flooded the market purporting to detox and cleanse your liver, whether its after a weekend of bingeing on food or alcohol, to maintain daily liver function, or to repair an already damaged liver. Tinsay Woreta, M.D., a Johns Hopkins hepatologist, is here to help debunk persistent liver health myths and determine the value of cleanses.
It’s Different Than Hepatitis A And B
Each form of hepatitis has its own specific virus that spreads and is treated differently. “Hepatitis simply means inflammation of the liver, or that the virus has an affinity for hurting the liver,” Reau says.
- Hepatitis A is an acute, short-term infection that often does not require treatment.
- Hepatitis B hides deep in the body and, like hepatitis C, is treated in a variety of ways, from antiviral medications to liver transplants.
“The viruses are different, but all of them should be taken very seriously since they can lead to significant liver disease and even death,” she adds.
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Contaminated Needles And Infected Blood
You can get hepatitis C from sharing contaminated needles, syringes and other injecting equipment during recreational drug use. Banknotes and straws used for snorting may also pass the virus on.
Being exposed to unsterilised tattoo and body piercing equipment can also pass hepatitis C on. Occasionally, you can get it from sharing a towel, razor blades or a toothbrush if there is infected blood on them.
Hepatitis C infection is also passed on in healthcare settings, from needle stick injuries or from medical and dental equipment that has not been properly sterilised. In countries where blood products are not routinely screened, you can also get hepatitis C by receiving a transfusion of unscreened blood and blood products.
You can prevent hepatitis C by:
- never sharing needles and syringes or other items that may be contaminated with infected blood
- only having tattoos, body piercings or acupuncture in a professional setting, where new, sterile needles are used
- following the standard infection control precautions, if youre working in a healthcare setting.
Bleeding In The Digestive Tract
Think of the liver as a sponge, Dr. Block says. Blood from the spleen, pancreas, and intestines all go into it, so theres a really large volume of blood flow through the organ. When the liver becomes cirrhotic, its stiffer and harder but the same amount of blood still has to go through. This creates backpressure, or hypertension, in nearby veins. In turn, this hypertension can cause vessels in areas like the esophagus, stomach, and rectum to enlarge and spontaneously rupture and bleed, Dr. Block explains.
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How Do My Healthcare Professional And I Decide On Treatment
Your healthcare professional will look at your health history and decide if treatment is right for you. The treatment you receive and the length of treatment may depend on:
- how much virus is in your body
- your genotype of hep C
- whether you have liver damage
- whether or not youve been treated previously
I Have Hepatitis C And I’m Thinking About Having Children What Should I Know
Hepatitis C does not prevent a man or woman from having children.
The hepatitis C virus infection does not cause infertility in either sex–it does not affect a woman’s ovarian or uterine function, or a man’s sperm production or sperm characteristics.
If you are a woman with hepatitis C, talk to your provider about treatment before pregnancy. Treatment before pregnancy can help reduce the risk of hepatitis C transmission to your baby. If you are already pregnant, treatment will usually take place after pregnancy and you may need to be tested for hepatitis C again prior to starting treatment.
If you are a man with hepatitis C, talk to your provider about being treated prior to conceiving. Although the risk of transmission during sex is low, it is still important to treat hepatitis C for your personal health.
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Scientists Explain 9 Ways To Heal Liver Damage
It is estimated that there are over 100 types of liver disease. The Mayo Clinic states, Liver disease can be inherited or caused by a variety of factors that damage the liver, such as viruses and alcohol use. Obesity is also linked to increased risk of liver damage.
According to the World Gastroenterology Organization, rates of liver disease are steadily increasing over time. In the United Kingdom, liver diseases are the fifth-leading cause of death. In the United States, liver disease rates are also climbing. Death rates from chronic liver disease or cirrhosis increased over 30 percent from 2000 to 2015.
- Swelling of legs and ankles.
- Yellowing of the skin and eyes .
Besides long-term alcohol use, there are numerous other causes of liver disease. Disease of the liver can arise from:
- Abnormalities of the immune system.
- Cancer and cancerous growths of the bile duct and liver.
- Fat accumulating in the liver .
- Genetic predisposition.
- Infection from parasites and viruses.
Risk factors for liver cancer include:
- Alcohol abuse.
- Exposure to other peoples bodily fluids and blood.
- Exposure to certain chemicals or toxins.
Key Points About Drug
- Drug-induced hepatitis is a redness and swelling of the liver.
- It is a rare condition caused by harmful amounts of certain medicines, vitamins, herbal remedies, or food supplements.
- In most cases, you may be taking a medicine for several months before it reaches a toxic level and affects your liver.
- You may also get the condition if you take too much of some medicines, such as acetaminophen. This can happen quickly.
- You must stop taking the medicine that is causing the disease.
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How Much Alcohol Can Cause Liver Damage
Studies indicate that the effects of alcohol intake depend on individual factors such as weight, size, genetics, gender, and underlying health conditions.4
In contrast to men, women absorb more alcohol from each drink, putting them at higher risk of liver disease. The liver may be harmed by drinking two to three alcoholic beverages each day.
Furthermore, binge drinking, or consuming four or five drinks in one session, may harm the liver. Those who consume 40 grams of alcohol a day are at risk of developing liver cirrhosis. Alcoholic hepatitis affects those who have been drinking excessively for several years.
On the other hand, cirrhosis patients often have a history of excessive drinking that spans more than ten years.
But heavy, everyday drinkers arent the only ones who are in danger. According to one study, even seven weeks of binge drinking may result in the early stages of liver damage.5 Each persons tolerance for alcohol and the length of time it takes to cause harm will be different.
You should be particularly cautious if you have a family history of drinking, liver illness, or other underlying problems.
Alcohol combined with other medicines can be extremely harmful to your liver. Never consume alcohol and medications at the same time without first consulting qualified medical professionals.
- Liver failure
What Do Hepatitis C Symptoms Look Like
Hepatitis C infection can go through two stages: acute and chronic. In the early, or acute stage, most people don’t have symptoms. If they do develop symptoms, these can include:
- flu-like symptoms, tiredness, high temperature and aches and pains
- loss of appetite
- tummy pain
- jaundice, meaning your skin and the whites of your eyes turn yellow
While for some people, the infection will clear without treatment, in most cases, acute infection will develop into long-term chronic infection. Chronic infection may not become apparent for a number of years until the liver displays signs of damage. These symptoms can include:
- mental confusion and depression these are specific to hepatitis C
- constantly feeling tired
- nausea, vomiting or tummy pain
- dark urine
- feeling bloated
- joint and muscle pain
Without treatment, chronic hepatitis C can cause scarring of the liver , which can cause the liver to stop working properly. A small number of people with cirrhosis develop liver cancer and these complications can lead to death. Other than a liver transplant, theres no cure for cirrhosis. However, treatments can help relieve some of the symptoms.
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Chronic Phase Of Hepatitis C
After six months 70% to 85% of those infected will have failed to clear the virus spontaneously. After this period the hepatitis C virus enters what is known as the chronic phase. This is when hepatitis C becomes a chronic or long-term infection. The diagnosis is confirmed when over a six month period hepatitis C RNA viral presence is detectable on at least two occasions.
A diagnosis of chronic hepatitis C means the battle between the virus and the immune system that occurs during the acute stage has finally been won by the virus. It is now highly unlikely that the virus can be cleared without treatment.
How the disease then progresses varies significantly from person to person. After many years some people will have minimal liver damage with no scarring while others can progress to cirrhosis within less than ten years. On average it takes about twenty years for significant liver scarring to develop. It is still not known whether chronic hepatitis C infection inevitably leads to cirrhosis. At present it is thought that this is a very likely outcome, although for some people it may take at least 50 years or more. They may well die of other unrelated diseases or conditions before cirrhosis develops. The rate of progression of liver damage cannot be accurately determined by liver enzyme levels, viral load or by genotype.
Liver damage and fibrosis during the chronic stage
Free Radicals and Fibrosis
What Are The Long
Researchers have not yet determined the long-term implications but are currently exploring whether patients have a harder time fighting future infection.
Benedikt Strunz, physician and doctoral student at the same department, added: One strength of our study is that we monitored patients for more than two years following elimination of the virus.
To the best of our knowledge, nobody has ever monitored over such a long term like this before.
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What The Cdc Recommends
Were you born between 1945 and 1965? If so, then youre a member of the Hepatitis C generation. The CDC recently recommended that all people born between during this time have a 1-time screening test for Hepatitis C. We now have new drugs that can treat and cure Hepatitis C so you should go get tested today.
The life you save may be your own! Please contact your local healthcare provider.
Questions To Ask Your Doctor
- Do I need treatment?
- What treatment is best for me?
- What medicines should I take?
- Are there any medicines I should avoid?
- How can I cope with the side effects of treatment?
- Is there a therapist I can talk to?
- How long will my treatment last?
- Can hepatitis C be cured?
- Are organ transplants and blood transfusions safe?
- Is it safe for me to get pregnant?
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Body Parts You Can Repair Yourself
Here’s how to mend broken bones, bypass clogged arteries, sprout new brain cells, and moreby optimizing your body’s regenerative powers
If humans were like salamanders, that careless carpenter down the street would have a full set of fingers. But soon after our primordial ancestors slithered out of the muck, limb regenesis was chucked out of our genetic portfolio like John Bobbitt’s . . . well, you get the picture. The good news: Our bodies still retain some important repair mechanisms.
“Regeneration is actually a default state when we’re embryos,” says David L. Stocum, Ph.D., a regenesis researcher and dean of the school of science at Indiana University-Purdue University in Indianapolis. “We gradually lose that ability as we developexcept in certain kinds of tissues.”
The holdouts? Your arteries, skin, liver, lungs, and digestive tract, and certain parts of your brain. They’re all continually refreshedif you’re healthy. “It’s called maintenance regeneration. It’s kind of like working on your car,” says Stocum. “You’ve got something going onyou’re low on oil, you buy a quart. A taillight goes out, you replace it. The clutch is acting up, you fix it. It’s the same thing with your body.”
Make sure your body has all the tools and parts it needs for a tune-up. Sometimes it’s as simple as revving your engine. Here’s how to mend broken bones, bypass clogged arteries, sprout new brain cells, and moreby optimizing your body’s regenerative powers.
What Are The Side Effects Of Drug Treatment
Common side effects for some treatments for hepatitis C may include the following:
Side effects are usually worst during the first few weeks of treatment. They become less severe over time. If you are having trouble dealing with the side effects of your medicine, talk to your doctor. He or she can suggest ways to relieve some of the side effects. For example, if your medicine makes you feel nauseated, it may help to take it right before you go to sleep.
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Can I Get Reinfected With Hepatitis C
If you become infected with hepatitis C infection and then clear the virus , yes, it is possible for you to become infected again.
The chance of another infection with hepatitis C is much, much less than the chance of a first-time infection, but it is not impossible. It has happened in people who continue to use injection drugs, and some studies suggest that it happens even more often in people who are also HIV positive.
In other words, having had hepatitis C once does not make you “immune” to getting hepatitis C again.
The best way to avoid reinfection is to reduce risky behaviors that can result in exposure to the hepatitis C virus: Do not use injection drugs, do not share needles for any reason, avoid blood-to-blood exposures with others, and use condoms if you are sexually active with a new partner or with a partner who has used injection drugs.
The research in this area is ongoing, and we will continue to learn more about this very important topic. But for now, preventing re-exposure to the hepatitis C virus is the only sure way of avoiding infection and reinfection with hepatitis C.