Hepatitis C is caused by the Hepatitis C Virus, which damages the liver cells and causes inflammation in them, resulting into swelling of the liver. This virus is extremely harmful and starts damaging the liver cells on a very large scale, and can even lead to the condition of Cirrhosis, where the liver is permanently scarred and damaged by this virus or result into development of liver cancer, which may require transplantation of the entire liver or some parts of it.
The worst condition with this disease is that you may have hepatitis C infection since years, but symptoms may not arise at all, which keeps you from taking precautions and treatments and kill your liver at a slow rate, from within.
Every person, especially those, with a medical history of liver complications, should keep a vigilant eye on the health of his/her liver, and do not take the symptoms like mild jaundice, or dark urine, and pain in lower abdomen, lightly. You should go to the physician and get your body checked, to detect the infection of Hepatitis C virus.
The physicians would ask you to undergo a series of tests, like, liver function test, albumen level, prothrombin time, blood tests including EIA assay, and Hepatitis C RNA assay, for measuring the viral load of Hepatitis C virus, genetic tests for identifying virus genotype and liver biopsy to measure the extent of damage done to the liver. Once these tests establish the infection and its level, treatment is started by the doctors, immediately.
The main aim behind the treatment of Hepatitis C is, to take out the virus from circulation, and reduce worsening of the situation, thereby preventing this condition from being converted into Cirrhosis, or liver cancer. There are certain affective treatments available for this disease, which have been explained further.
The medications are prescribed to the patients of Hepatitis C, which has seen to be quite effective in eradicating the virus from their bodies. The capsule of Virazole or Ribavirin, an antiviral product has to be taken twice in a day, for a minimum period of 24 weeks and maximum time of 48 weeks, depending upon the seriousness of infection.
This Ribavirin is associated with injections of PEG-Intron, or Interferon Alfa and some other drugs also. But there is a big problem with these medications, as they can have some serious side effects, like depression and suppression of bodily functions.
Ribavirin is also responsible for causing birth defects in pregnant women, so pregnancy should be avoided within a period of six months, even after treatment.
The patients suffering from Hepatitis C also have to get an injection of pegylated interferon Alfa, or Alpha Interferon, or Pegintron on a weekly basis, in addition to Ribavirin capsules. In extreme cases, the injection is administered even thrice a week, for six to 12 months, depending upon the extent of damage.
Scientists across the world are trying to find out complete cure for hepatitis C and in the process some new drugs have also been found, which are quite effective with this disease. These new drugs act as protease inhibitors and help in shortening the treatment duration.
So, doctors administer these new drugs, like, boceprevir and telaprevir also, to their patients suffering from Genotype 1 of hepatitis C virus, in addition to the Ribavirin capsules and PEG-Intron injections, for a speedy recovery.
Liver transplant is the last option, and is followed in the extreme cases of liver damage, by hepatitis C virus resulting in Cirrhosis, and liver cancer.
Such Hepatitis C patients may need to go through the process of liver transplantation, wherein the lever is removed from the patient’s body and replaced with that of another compatible donor. But, in such cases also, there is no guarantee that the virus will not strike back, and may result in recurrence of this condition.
Hepatitis C patients are asked to avoid nutritional supplements, vitamins and other medications during the treatment. They are also asked to get vaccinated for Hepatitis A and B, and completely avoid alcohol, even in trace amounts.
These treatments for hepatitis C are mainly aimed at controlling the spread of hepatitis C virus, and removing them completely from the bloodstream, but you should also remember that removing them does not mean that they can never get back. There are chances of re-attack by this virus, so you need to take all the precautions and also go for a check up on routine basis.
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