The inflammation of the liver is called hepatitis. The disease can be self-limiting or progress to fibrosis (scarring), cirrhosis or liver cancer. Viruses are the most common cause of hepatitis.
Types of viral hepatitis
There are 5 major hepatitis viruses. Although they all cause hepatitis, they differ significantly.
The hepatitis A virus (HAV) is present in the feces of infected people and is transmitted through the consumption of contaminated food or water.
The infection is benign, most people are recovering completely and remain immune to other HAV infections. The epidemic occurs in areas where sanitation is deficient.
Hepatitis B virus (HBV) is transmitted through exposure to blood, semen, and other infectious bodily fluids. HBV can be transmitted by infected mothers to babies at the time of birth.
The hepatitis C virus (HCV) is transmitted by exposure to infectious blood. Types B and C lead to chronic diseases and together they are the most common cause of cirrhosis and liver cancer.
Hepatitis D virus (HDV) infections occur only in people infected with HBV. The double infection of HDV and HBV can lead to more serious diseases and a worse result. Vaccines against hepatitis B provide protection against HDV infection.
Hepatitis E virus (HEV) is transmitted through the consumption of contaminated food or water.
Some types and cases of hepatitis can be cured without intervention, but sometimes they can become liver scars or cirrhosis.
HAV and HEV
There is no specific treatment for VHA and HEV. The doctor will advise the patient to refrain from drinking alcohol and taking drugs during recovery. Most patients will recover without intervention.
Any person who is not vaccinated and exposed to potentially infected blood or body fluid from another person may undergo a post-exposure “prophylaxis” protocol.
It consists of vaccination against HBV and immunoglobulin against hepatitis B, administered after exposure and before the onset of an acute infection. This protocol will not cure an infected infection, but it will decrease the rate of acute infection.
A person infected with chronic HBV should have blood tests and an ultrasound of the liver every 6 months to monitor liver damage and the activity of the virus.
Antiviral drugs such as lamivudine (AML), adefovir dipivoxil (ADV), entecavir (ETV) and telbivudine (TBV) prevent the virus from replicating and prevent the progression of the disease.
These medications must be taken long-term to prevent the risk of recurrence. Pegylated interferons (PEG-IFN) modify the patient’s immune response to the virus.
A patient with hepatitis C will be prescribed antivirals, with or without ribavirin. Some antivirals and targeted combination therapies are now available to treat the hepatitis C virus depending on its subtype.
These treatments target viral replication and prevent the virus from reproducing. These medications include Ledipasvir-sofosbuvir (Harvoni), Ombitasvir-paritaprevir-dasabuvir-ritonavir (Viekira Pak), Simeprevir (Olysio) and Sofosbuvir (Sovaldi).
Hepatitis D has no cure and treatment only includes support measures.
Treatment of Hepatitis C
There are many medications that can be prescribed for the treatment of hepatitis C.
A doctor who specializes in liver diseases will be the best person to help you. He can tell you which medication is best for the symptoms you are feeling.
Recently, a lot of research has been done on HCV (hepatitis C virus). New drugs continue to improve precedents. The treatment against HCV has improved many folds now.
Previous injections and oral medications were used, but now it’s only the tablets that do the work. And these medications are not only more effective but also safer.
The names of some of the most commonly used direct-acting drugs for HCV are ledipasvir, simeprevir, paritaprevir, ritonavir, ombitasvir, sofosbuvir, daclatasvir and dasabuvir.
In November 2015, the government of India announced that it would incorporate a more generic version of drugs such as daclatasvir and the combination of sofosbuvir with ledipasvir.
This would make the treatment of hepatitis C virus in India more affordable and a great relief for patients suffering from this virus.
Prevention of Hepatitis
The best way to prevent hepatitis is to have safe sex and use disposable needles for all blood tests or transfusions. If you are tattooed or pierced, make sure that the person handling these needles uses sterile needles.
If you notice any of the symptoms mentioned above, consult your doctor immediately and perform an examination.