What Are the Different Types of Hepatitis Treatments?

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  • Written By: Marlene Garcia
  • Edited By: Daniel Lindley
  • Last Modified Date: 24 September 2018
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Three kinds of interferon and two antiviral drugs represent common hepatitis treatments. Doctors prescribe these medications, or a combination of them, based on the type of hepatitis diagnosed in the patient. Hepatitis B is treated with interferon and lamivudine, while hepatitis C treatment might consist of a combination of interferon and ribavirin. Interferon consists of proteins that spur the body’s immune cells to fight infection. Ribavirin and lamivudine are both antiviral drugs that fight infection.

In most cases, hepatitis treatments address chronic forms of the disease, specifically hepatitis B, C, and a small percentage of people with hepatitis D. Other types of the disorder, which include hepatitis A and E, generally do not require hepatitis treatments because symptoms disappear on their own or no treatment is available. Acute cases of hepatitis B and C usually produce few symptoms, which resolve within six months.

Interferon hepatitis treatments might work on only half of eligible patients because relapse is common. Common side effects of interferon include flu-like symptoms that are usually minor. Oral lamivudine is typically prescribed for one year, and might cause liver and blood disorders in rare cases. Ribavirin might retard the production of blood cells and platelets when used as hepatitis treatment. It is not prescribed for men or women who plan to have children because it may cause birth defects.


Anyone exposed to unsanitary food practices might become infected with hepatitis A. It may occur after consuming food or water contaminated with fecal matter, and from eating raw or undercooked shellfish. Travel to areas where the disease is rampant can also spread the disease, but it is preventable through vaccines. Children rarely exhibit symptoms of hepatitis A, but adults might feel suddenly ill and suffer jaundice. Hepatitis treatments are generally not needed for this strain of virus, which typically resolves in a few months.

Chronic cases of hepatitis B and hepatitis C usually require treatment to prevent permanent liver damage and reduce the risk of liver cancer. These disorders spread through sharing dirty needles, sexual contact with an infected person, and blood transfusions before screening for hepatitis began. Any situation where a person comes in contact with blood or bodily fluids infected with the virus poses a risk.

No treatment options exist for treating chronic hepatitis E, which can lead to cirrhosis of the liver or cancer. It most often surfaces after travel to countries where hepatitis infections run high. This type of virus might spread through unclean dental or medical instruments, or from an injury that breaks the skin and becomes contaminated. Interferon might help a small percentage of patients who are co-infected with hepatitis B and hepatitis D.



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