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Hepatitis C is a viral infection that affects human liver. It is caused by the hepatitis C virus (HCV), which, unfortunately, can produce devastating damage to the liver. Hepatitis C is a primarily asymptomatic disease with many people having it for years yet never showing any signs or symptoms. The virus is predominantly blood-borne and almost all cases of hepatitis C transmission involve contact with infected blood. The HCV virus is not easily detectable in the human blood for the first six months of infection and it takes very deep scanning of the blood to detect it. These first six months comprise the acute stage of the disease. In most of the cases, after this period of time, the disease moves on to its chronic stage and this is where massive damage to the liver occurs. At this stage, the virus may cause fatal damages to the liver and most of its negative effects at this point are irreversible.
Unlike hepatitis A and hepatitis B, there is no vaccine for hepatitis C. This means that there is no known drug that can keep your body safe from this virus. However, medical researchers have come up with treatment that can cure this disease completely leaving no trace that it ever existed in the body. In addition, there are other types of cures that may work without any medical intervention.
Over the past few years, medical scientists have been comparing different types of hepatitis C treatments to determine, which one of them is the most effective. However, the effectiveness of any type of hepatitis C treatment varies widely in different patients, which is always due to a very unique combination of factors.
The major factor that determines what type of treatment is most effective for a person is the type of genome of the hepatitis C virus they are infected with. There are six known genotypes of the hepatitis C virus. Here is a brief overview of the genotypes and their prevalence.
Genotype 1. This genotype is mostly found in patients in America. However, it can potentially affect people from any other part of the world.
Genotype 2 and genotype 3. These two are spread almost evenly throughout the globe.
Genotype 4. This genotype of the HCV virus is dominantly found in the northern areas of Africa.
Genotype 5. This genotype is commonly found in South Africa.
Genotype 6. This genotype is most often observed in patients located in Asia.
According to research, it is possible for one person to be infected with more than one genotype of the hepatitis C virus. Being infected with more than one genotype of the virus makes it even harder to get rid of the virus. Doctors determine the genotype of the virus affecting you by conducting a simple blood test.
To get a good idea of how genotypes affect treatment, it is important to note that ribavirin and peginterferon treatments are more likely to work for victims infected with genotype 2 or 3. These drugs can also be used to treat people with genotypes 5 and 6 but not recommended for people infected with genotype 4. As for genotype 1, telaprevir or boceprevir are mostly used but may be used alongside ribavirin and peginterferon.
It is important to keep in mind that the genotype of hepatitis C that affects a victim doesn’t have any effect on the severity of the disease. In addition, a doctor may change your treatment accordingly if you do not respond well to their initial treatment or if there is still a huge amount of the virus in your blood stream after three to six months of continuous treatment.
Hepatitis C was discovered in the 1970s and was immediately identified as a progressive disease that caused massive liver damage leading to liver cirrhosis and permanent liver damage in severe cases. Afterwards, the quest for a cure began with Acyclovir being used as the first antiviral drug against HCV. However, it had little success and IFN was later picked up and after a few clinical trials, it seemed more promising but a more effective drug was still needed.
The search for a cure got more intense in the 90s with ribavirin being used in clinical trials. Its success was more promising compared to that of previous drugs but its combination with IFN was what came really close to being the perfect cure. Later, pegylated interferon was introduced into the equation and the results of the trials were very even better when the three drugs were used alongside each other.
Afterwards, efforts in improving the response rate to these drugs by increasing dosage and duration of treatment showed little progress and so researchers continued the search for a more effective cure.
As the knowledge about the structure of the HCV increased, intensive research was carried out giving birth to the discovery of the fact that protease inhibitors decreased the RNA levels of the HCV. Later on, two protease inhibitors were produced; boceprevir and telaprevir, and they were used in further clinical trials.
Protease inhibitors started being incorporated into the production of hepatitis C treatment as their effect raised the effectiveness of the drugs. In the last decade, three drugs had been chosen as the recommended treatment for hepatitis C. They are:
The answer to this question is ‘YES’. Research carried out in the last decade indicates that there are more cures of hepatitis C other than the drugs mentioned above. However, it should be noted that since hepatitis C is a viral infection, antivirals remain to be the best treatment for the disease. Plus, the drugs listed above have been found to work for all genotypes of the hepatitis C virus.
Like many other diseases, hepatitis C can also be treated with natural remedies. According to top researchers of natural medicine, the main aim of natural remedies for hepatitis C is to focus on healing the liver while boosting the immune system of the patient.
Most of the research that has been carried out was based on ancient Chinese medicine since they encountered hepatitis and tried to create a cure for it way before anyone else. However, research has been faced with many problems like understanding why the ancient doctors did what they did since the information is sometimes distorted during translation and the ancient understanding of the disease was sometimes ill-fetched.
However, it is clear that their understanding of what the liver was is what led them to aiming at boosting the health of the liver and the immune system since like modern science, they understood that hepatitis C causes massive liver damage.
Some of the natural remedies also attack the virus directly forcing it into a dormant state of hibernation where its effects on the liver are almost stopped completely. According to research, the dormancy may last for very many years, which is almost equal to a cure. However, there were cases where the virus reactivated again but medical or natural remedies were used to treat the disease again.
Although there is no magical plant that cures the disease, there are foods that have been found to either send the virus to dormancy or give the immune system the extra energy it needs to completely clear the virus out of the body. These are as listed below.
Due to relentless research, scientists have recently come up with new comparatively effective drugs other than Sofosbuvir, Ribavirin and Peginterferon. These drugs do not have the most impressing results but they have shown significant cure rates over the past few years. Although the three mentioned above are most recommended, the drugs in the list below have also proven to be effective in many cases. However, some of them may be very even more expensive than the recommended three (and that is even though the average price of a 12-week course of sofosbuvir+ribavirin+peginterferon ranges between $1,000 for the generics and $84,000 for the brand-name meds). They are as follows.- Viekira Pak. It was approved near the end of 2014. It is a combination of ritonavir, paritaprevir and ombitasvir. - Harvoni. This drug was approved in 2014 and is a combination of ledipasvir and sofosbuvir. It is very effective and can cure hepatitis C in about three to four months of continuous treatment. - Grazoprevir. - Elbasvir - Olysio (simeprevir) - Telaprevir (Incivek) and Boceprevir (Victrelis)
Although this list seems short, there are very many other drugs that are waiting official approval. While these drugs may be very effective for curing hepatitis C, they may come with mild side effects. In addition, their high cost means that not everyone can afford them and most patients have to go with the three common treatments recommended for hepatitis C.
The fight against the hepatitis C virus is a battle that has come with its share of successes and small loses. However, research for a 100% effective treatment for hepatitis C is still ongoing but in the meantime, the many drugs in the market will have to do. Research has shown that that a number of the drugs mentioned in this piece are expected to work for each victim regardless of their gender, age or genotype of hepatitis C virus that they are infected with. That is good news since all victims of hepatitis C can now rest assured that there is a cure waiting for them at a hospital or a pharmacy near them.