Sunday, March 25, 2007

The Benefits of Combined Hepatitis C Treatments

Hepatitis C is a form of liver disease which occurs due to infection with HCV. Hepatitis C virus is also responsible for causing other liver disorders, such as cirrhosis. It is very important to timely discover the presence of hepatitis C virus in patients, in order to commence the administration of an appropriate hepatitis C treatment. It is best to administer hepatitis C treatment in the incipient stages of the disease. Otherwise, hepatitis C can become chronic, making the medical treatment more difficult. An estimated 150.000 people in the United States are diagnosed with hepatitis C each year, and many of them may have already developed chronic forms of the disease by the time they are selected for hepatitis C treatment.

A very effective form of hepatitis C treatment involves the use of interferon, initially used in the treatment for leukemia. Interferon is a protein produced in small amounts by the human body in response to infections of viral origin. Laboratory-altered interferon has proved to be an effective cure for hepatitis C and other infectious diseases. Most patients with mild, uncomplicated forms of hepatitis C respond very well to hepatitis C treatment with interferon, eventually recovering completely from the disease. However, people with chronic or complicated forms of the disease experience a symptomatic relapse after the hepatitis C treatment with interferon is interrupted.

Although most patients respond well to hepatitis C treatment with interferon, experiencing a regression of the disease as long as they receive medications, in many cases hepatitis C reoccurs within 6 months after the treatment has ended. Therefore, hepatitis C treatment that involves only the use of interferon is not appropriate for patients with chronic forms of the disease. Furthermore, long-term hepatitis C treatments with interferon can have pronounced side-effects and therefore they shouldn’t be prescribed for more than 6-8 months.

In many cases, patients with both acute and chronic hepatitis C are prescribed combined medical treatments. Most combined hepatitis C treatments include peginterferon (chemically modified alpha interferon) and antiviral medications.

A very effective antiviral agent is ribavirin, commonly prescribed in hepatitis C treatments as an adjutant for interferon. Ribavirin is able to increase the efficiency of interferon and it is now used in most combined hepatitis C treatments. Combined hepatitis C treatments minimize the risk of relapse and most patients with chronic hepatitis C fully recover from the disease after therapy with peginterferon and ribavirin, without experiencing a recurrence of its symptoms.

While most patients with uncomplicated forms of liver disease respond well to combined hepatitis C treatments, the prospects of patients with cirrhosis and end-stage liver disease are very uncertain. Most patients with complicated forms of hepatitis C require liver transplant, as the advanced stage of infection renders medical treatments inefficient. It is best to discover hepatitis C in its incipient stage, in order to maximize the effects of medical treatments. If they are administered in time, hepatitis C treatments with peginterferon and ribavirin are the best means of fully overcoming the disease.

About the author :

By: Groshan Fabiola
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