Treatment Options for Hepatitis

By Medically reviewed by Hello Doktor Medical Panel

Hepatitis is an inflammation of the liver caused by the hepatitis virus. Experts divide those viruses into 5 unique hepatitis viruses, identified by the letters A, B, C, D, and E. Therefore, there is a huge different among treatments for each type of hepatitis. Moreover, treatments for acute and chronic hepatitis are also different, depending on many factors.

Being diagnosed with hepatitis can change your life. The medicines used to treat hepatitis can cause serious side effects, are expensive and don’t work for everyone. You may or may not receive medication treatment for hepatitis, depending on:

  • How damaged your liver is,
  • Other health conditions you have,
  • How much hepatitis virus you have in your body,
  • What type of hepatitis you have.

Treatment of acute hepatitis

Because most people who have acute hepatitis don’t know about their condition, they don’t get treated. If a person has been exposed to the virus, for example, health care staff that is stuck by a needle, it is recommended early acute hepatitis treatment. Most people who are known to have an acute hepatitis infection get treated with medicine. Acute hepatitis treatment usually concentrates on reducing your signs and symptoms, includes:

  • Rest. Hepatitis patients feel tired and sick and have less energy and thus need some short break.
  • Cope with nausea and vomiting. Nausea can make it difficult to eat. Try to divide into small meals throughout the day rather than eating full meals. Eat more high-calorie foods to get enough calories. For instance, drink fruit juice or milk rather than water. Besides, it is advisable to provide intravenous fluids to prevent dehydration caused by vomiting. Patients with severe nausea and/or vomiting may need to be hospitalized for treatment and intravenous fluids.
  • Rest your liver. Your liver may have difficulty in absorbing medications and alcohol. Consult your doctor before using any medication, including over-the-counter drugs. Don’t drink alcohol while infected with hepatitis since alcohol is toxic to the liver.
  • Be cautious about taking any medications or compounds that have negative effects in patients with impaired liver (for instance acetaminophen, alcohol).  The impaired liver may not be able to eradicate drugs normally, and those drugs may stay longer in the blood and reach toxic levels. Besides sedatives and “tranquilizers” are avoided because they may accentuate the effects of liver failure on the brain and cause lethargy and coma.
  • Stop drinking alcohol and smoking. Alcohol strengthens liver damage in chronic hepatitis, and progress more rapidly to cirrhosis. Smoking also can accentuate liver disease and should be stopped.
  • Avoid unsafe sexual activity. Because many kinds of sexual activity can transmit infection to your partner, avoid all sexual activity if you have hepatitis. Any other protections such as condoms don’t offer appropriate protection.

Treatment of chronic hepatitis

There are lots of treatment options for you when you have long-term hepatitis, consist of medication or a combination of antiviral medication, vaccines or liver transplant, etc.

Medications for chronic hepatitis C infection include:

  • Injectable alpha interferons (Pegasys),
  • Oral ribavirin (Rebetol, Copegus),
  • Oral boceprevir (Victrelis),
  • Simeprevir (Olysio),
  • Oral sofosbuvir (Sovaldi),
  • Oral simeprevir (Olysio),
  • Oral daclatasvir (Daklinza),
  • Oral ledipasvir/sofosbuvir (Harvoni),
  • Oral ombitasvir/paritaprevir/ritonavir (Technivie),
  • Oral ombitasvir/paritaprevir/ritonavir/dasabuvir (Viekira Pak).

The standard treatment for chronic hepatitis C used to be a combination antiviral therapy consisting of a pegylated interferon and ribavirin, sometimes called PEG/riba therapy. Interferon alfa-2b (Intron A). It is used by injection mainly for young people to fight infection who don’t want to undergo long-term treatment or who might want to get pregnant within a few years. It is used along with twice-daily oral doses of ribavirin (Rebetol, Copegus).

Liver transplant

If there is a serious damage in your liver function, you could choose liver transplant as a treatment option. During a liver transplant, the doctor removes the damaged part of your liver and replaces it with a healthy liver. Most transplanted livers come from deceased donors, and another small number come from living donors who donate a part of their livers. For people with hepatitis C infection, a liver transplant is not a cure. Treatment with antiviral medications usually continues after a liver transplant, since hepatitis C infection is likely to recur in the new liver.

Vaccinations: Until now there is no vaccine for hepatitis C, your doctor will likely recommend you to receive vaccines against the hepatitis A and B viruses. Some separate viruses also can damage your adequate liver’s function and complicate treatment of hepatitis C.

Whether or not you take medicines to treat hepatitis C, you will need to have routine blood tests that allow your doctor know exactly the liver’s ability to function. Treatment of acute and chronic hepatitis C are different from each other. Resting, relieving symptoms and maintaining an adequate intake of fluids is recommended for treatment of acute viral hepatitis. Treatment of chronic viral hepatitis involves medications in order to clear out the virus and to prevent further liver damage.

Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.

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Review Date: December 4, 2019 | Last Modified: December 4, 2019

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