There are existing treatments for Hepatitis C. Because the infection may be mild, treatment is not always necessary. Individuals with slight liver abnormalities may require only follow-up blood tests to monitor the liver function. In fact, approximately 10% to 25% of individuals will clear the Hepatitis C virus from their bodies with no or little treatment. (Learn more about Hepatitis C here. However, individuals with chronic infections will require differing levels of treatment.
What treatments are available for Hepatitis C?
Antiviral Medications are used to try to eliminate the virus from the body. A doctor will prescribe a combination of medications to be administered over the period of several weeks. A second round of treatment may be necessary if blood tests show the Hepatitis C virus is still present. There are side effects to antiviral medications including flu-like symptoms, depression, fatigue, headaches, and/or fever. In some cases, individuals may not tolerate antiviral medication and treatment must be delayed or stopped altogether.
In extreme cases, the liver may be too damaged by Hepatitis C for recovery without a liver transplant. Livers are donated by deceased individuals or others who donate a small portion of their liver. Liver transplants do not provide a “cure” for Hepatitis C. The infection is likely to recur in the new liver; therefore, treatment and antiviral medications must continue after an infected individual receives a new liver.
Other lifestyle changes can help stop the damage caused by Hepatitis C. These changes include abstaining from behaviors impact the overall health of infected individuals:
- Improve overall health: A healthy diet, a consistent exercise regime, and a health sleep pattern will help fight the progression of the infection.
- Avoiding medications that cause damage the liver: An infected individual should avoid all medication that could reduce liver function.
- Abstain from alcohol: Alcohol reduces liver function and speeds the progression of Hepatitis C.
- Receive vaccinations: Although there is no vaccination for Hepatitis C, infected individuals should receive vaccinations for other viruses (such as Hepatitis A & B) that can create complications.
- Investigate alternative medicine: Although studies have presented mixed results, some believe herbal remedies, primarily milk thistle, may slow the progression of Hepatitis C.
- Limit the exposure of contaminated blood: Infected individuals should limit the exposure of others to contaminated blood to stop the spread of Hepatitis C. (Learn more about Hepatitis C risk factors.) <<Link to: “How do you prevent Hepatitis C?” post. >>
With proper care and monitoring, infected individuals can slow or stop the damage caused by the Hepatitis C infection. It is critical that individuals with chronic Hepatitis C find and consult with a dedicated physician upon receiving Hepatitis C positive blood results.
Jean Brown Research is currently seeking individuals 18 years and older who suffer from Hepatitis C for a clinical study for an investigational medication to treat Hepatitis C. Participants must not have received any previous treatment for Hepatitis C virus infection.
Qualified participants may receive related health care, investigational medication, and compensation for time and travel. Learn more about Jean Brown Research’s Hepatitis C study here.