Treatment isn't always necessary
A diagnosis of hepatitis C infection doesn't necessarily mean you need treatment. If your doctor recommends no treatment, you'll undergo follow-up blood tests to monitor for liver problems.
Hepatitis C infection is treated with antiviral medications intended to clear the virus from your body. Your doctor may recommend a combination of medications taken over several weeks.
Throughout treatment your doctor will monitor your response to medications.
Antiviral medications can cause depression and flu-like signs and symptoms, such as fatigue, fever and headache. Some side effects can be serious enough that treatment must be delayed or stopped in certain cases.
If your liver has been severely damaged, a liver transplant may be an option. During a liver transplant, the surgeon removes your damaged liver and replaces it with a healthy liver. Most transplanted livers come from deceased donors, though a small number come from living donors who donate a portion 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 to protect against other forms of viral hepatitis
Your doctor will likely recommend that you receive vaccines against the hepatitis A and B viruses. These are separate viruses that also can cause liver damage and complicate treatment of hepatitis C.
Aug. 13, 2013
- Mandell GL, et al. Mandell, Douglas, and Bennett's Principles and Practice of Infectious Diseases. 7th ed. Philadelphia, Pa.: Churchill Livingstone Elsevier; 2010. http://www.mdconsult.com/books/about.do?about=true&eid=4-u1.0-B978-0-443-06839-3..X0001-X--TOP&isbn=978-0-443-06839-3&uniqId=230100505-57. Accessed June 14, 2013.
- Feldman M, et al. Sleisenger & Fordtran's Gastrointestinal and Liver Disease: Pathophysiology, Diagnosis, Management. 9th ed. Philadelphia, Pa.: Saunders Elsevier; 2010. http://www.mdconsult.com/books/about.do?eid=4-u1.0-B978-1-4160-6189-2..X0001-7--TOP&isbn=978-1-4160-6189-2&about=true&uniqId=229935664-2192. Accessed June 14, 2013.
- Diagnosis, management and treatment of hepatitis C: An update. Alexandria, Va.: American Association for the Study of Liver Disease. http://www.aasld.org/practiceguidelines/Pages/guidelinelisting.aspx. Accessed June 13, 2013.
- Hepatitis C FAQs for the public. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. http://www.cdc.gov/hepatitis/C/cFAQ.htm. Accessed June 13, 2013.
- CAM and hepatitis C: A focus on herbal supplements. National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine. http://nccam.nih.gov/health/hepatitisc/hepatitiscfacts.htm. Accessed June 13, 2013.
- An update on treatment of genotype 1 chronic hepatitis C virus infection: 2011 practice guideline by the American Association for the Study of Liver Diseases. Alexandria, Va.: American Association for the Study of Liver Disease. http://www.aasld.org/practiceguidelines/Pages/guidelinelisting.aspx. Accessed June 13, 2013
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, et al. Recommendations for the identification of chronic hepatitis C virus infection among persons born during 1945-1965. MMWR. 2012;61:1. http://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/preview/mmwrhtml/rr6104a1.htm?s_cid=rr6104a1_w. Accessed June 17, 2013.
- Picco MF (expert opinion). Mayo Clinic, Jacksonville, Fla. June 30, 2013.
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