Innovations in Hepatitis Treatments

Viral hepatitis is a systemic infection affecting predominantly the liver and causing its inflammation. It may be acute (recent infection, relatively rapid onset) or chronic (lasting for more than 6 months). It is caused by infection with one of the five known viruses, hepatitis A (HAV), hepatitis B (HBV), hepatitis C (HCV), hepatitis D (HDV), and hepatitis E (HEV).

The common clinical consequence of infection with HAV or HEV is an illness characterized by sudden onset of fever and systemic symptoms followed by jaundice. Majority of people with acute viral hepatitis recover spontaneously within a few weeks, without any residual consequences.

Infection with HBV, HCV, or HDV may present as acute hepatitis some time. However, these viruses have the potential to cause persistent infection in a subset of the population infected. Such infections may be associated with ongoing liver damage, which may progress to liver cirrhosis or liver cancer and can become life-threatening. Even though a diagnosis of Hepatitis B or C is scary, with advances in modern medicine treatment is available.

The goal of hepatitis treatment is to stop the viral multiplication and slow the progression of the disease.

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Hepatitis B Treatment

There are two categories of medicines used for treatment.

Pegylated Interferons has immunomodulatory and antiviral properties. It is given for a finite period to attain a sustained response. However, side effects like fever, chills, headache, malaise, myalgias, emotional lability and depression, development of autoantibodies and thyroid dysfunction may cause discontinuation of the drug.

Nucleos(t)ide Analogs like Lamivudine and Adefovir stop the viral multiplication. They are given orally for minimum a period of 1 year.

Hepatitis C Treatment

The drug of choice depends on the amount of damage to the liver, other health conditions, the activity of the virus, and the genotype of Hepatitis C virus.The direct-acting antivirals medicine interferes with proteins in your body that the virus needs to grow or spread. They remove all traces of the virus from your blood within 12 weeks. This is called “virus clearance,” and it’s what doctors look for to determine if you’re cured.

Daclatasvir (Daklinza) is to treat people with HCV types 1 or 3. It’s a pill you take once a day along with sofosbuvir (Sovaldi) and possibly ribavirin

Elbasvir and grazoprevir (Zephier) is a once-a-day pill which treats HCV types 1 or 4. It may also offer new hope for people with hepatitis C who also have cirrhosis, HIV, late-stage kidney disease, and other hard-to-treat health conditions.

Glecaprevir and pibrentasvir (Mavyret) offer a shorter treatment cycle of 8 weeks for adult patients with all types of HCV who don’t have cirrhosis and who have not been previously treated. The length of treatment is longer for those who are in a different disease stage.

It is overwhelming to be diagnosed with Hepatitis B and Hepatitis C but, with regular liver function tests, ultrasound imaging and medications the quality of life and progression of liver disease are controlled.