What are the treatment options for hepatitis?

Dr. Jeanne Morrison, PhD
Family Practitioner

Hepatitis B
Medical treatment is usually not required for acute hepatitis B infection although your doctor will want to check the health of your liver. Symptoms are mild and flu-like and may or may not occur. In many cases, symptoms subside within weeks or months with no damage to the liver. Bed rest, plenty of fluids, and alcohol restrictions are recommended.

Chronic hepatitis B symptoms can be treated with one of several antiviral medications. In some cases corticosteroids are used for inflammation. Medications are used to lessen the level of damage to the liver. People with chronic hepatitis B should not drink alcohol. Over-the-counter medications and herbal remedies are not recommended without doctor approval. In severe cases, a liver transplant may be the only way to treat liver failure and liver cancer.

Hepatitis C
Acute hepatitis C usually does not require medications or treatment. In many cases symptoms subside within a few weeks. Doctors usually recommend that you get adequate rest, fluids, and good nutrition. Your doctor may want to use liver function tests to monitor the health of your liver. There is no cure for acute hepatitis C.

Hepatitis C is most often treated with a combination of antiviral medications. Various combinations of oral antiviral drugs are now available and recommended to treat chronic hepatitis C, but the best regimen for you will depend on your genotype and medical history. Peginterferon, which used to be the primary treatment for hepatitis C, now is used only for certain patients, because the interferon-free regimens generally are more effective and easier to tolerate. These newer drug regimens can cure the infection in most people, with cure rates exceeding 90 percent in certain groups. In severe cases of chronic hepatitis C, liver failure or liver cancer may require a liver transplant.

Chronic hepatitis C treatment options now include a number of oral medications that inhibit replication of the hep C virus. In this video, internal medicine specialist Michael Roizen, MD, describes these new drug options and how to reach remission.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.