The only proven effective treatment of Hepatitis C is through the use of prescription drugs. There are some other steps you can take to create a healthy environment for your liver to recover, such as maintaining a healthy diet and daily exercise, but this is meant to improve your overall health; a professional treatment plan with your medical provider is imperative to get you on the road to recovery.
Unfortunately at this time, no vaccine is available to prevent Hepatitis C infection. Your medical provider will cover all the available treatment options with you and in extreme cases, this could include a conversation about performing a liver transplant when the liver is no longer able to perform basic functions. Please note that a liver transplant will not cure the viral Hepatitis C infection; it is only replacing a failing organ under attack by a virus.
Until recently, only Pegylated interferon and Ribavirin were available to treat Hepatitis C. The United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has now approved several orally administered medications which has greatly expanded the treatment options.
Your treatment will be tailored to your unique circumstances. Variables that impact treatment plans include; your genotype and subtype, if you have been treated before, any other medical issues you have or that may be tied to your treatment and the severity of your liver disease.
The goals of treating Hepatitis C through medications are to:
- permanently eliminate the Hepatitis C virus from your system
- halt or decelerate liver damage
- reduce your risk of additional complications such as cirrhosis and hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC)
- decrease your risk of decompensation if your liver is already cirrhotic
Expected treatment and results
There are several factors that may impact how you respond to treatment. Depending on the viral load (how much Hepatitis C virus is found in your blood), your genotype and how damaged your liver is will all weigh on how well the treatment may work. HIV infection and prior treatment results also play a role in the treatment outcome. If you are being treated for the first time with the new oral medications recently approved by the FDA, the chances of overcoming the virus are greater than 90%.
General recommendations to support your treatment (changed to reflect list)
- Be sure to follow instructions from your provider, especially regarding your medication.
- Focus on self care. Drink daily the recommended 8-10 glasses of water, ensure you get the rest and sleep you need and eat healthy meals.
- Become an informed patient; understand the risks and warnings associated with any Hepatitis C medications you take.
- If you are using Ribavirin, remember it is necessary to utilize two forms of birth control during treatment. It is also important to continue to use contraception for at least six months after your last dose.
- It is very important to make all of your doctor appointments. If it is necessary to miss one, be sure to reschedule immediately.
- Keep the contact information for your doctor (doctor’s name and number) on you at all times.
- Keep a list of your medications and the amounts you are supposed to take on you as well
- Ingredients in other medicines and supplements (including vitamins, over the counter drugs, herbal remedies, etc) can impact the effectiveness of your treatment. Always check with your doctor first before you start taking something new.