Thereâ€™s no fast and easy cure for the Hepatitis C virus (HCV), but researchers are constantly breaking new ground.
While current Hep C treatment ranges from managing hepatitis symptoms to possibly curing hepatitis, future treatments may look to other antiviral techniques that may be more effective and reduce side-effects, which are pretty nasty with the currently available drugs.
Over at Rockefeller University, theyâ€™re developing new ways to study Hep C treatment, including developing animal models (Hep C is a human-only virus). Better understanding how the Hep C virus works is critical to developing new treatments, as the virus is talented at evading the immune system and adapting itâ€™s reproduction in protest to drugs that seek to block it. New Hep C treatment discoveries could include antivirals that block the Hep C virus from cell entry.
Traditional Hep C treatment includes interferon and ribavirin. Interferon is naturally produced by your immune system, and interferon medication is designed to work against Hep C, but it produces extreme flu-like side effects and may lower your white blood cell count. Ribavirin interferes with Hep C replication, but may lower your red blood cell count.
Hep C treatment largely hinges on how early treatment is begun; Hep C may not show up in a blood test until after 6 months from infection, and many people may experience little to no symptoms, which is why itâ€™s important to get tested twice yearly (more frequently if youâ€™re at higher risk). Hepatitis symptoms can appear as the flu, so if you have flu-like symptoms (nausea, fatigue, fever) that donâ€™t go away, get tested.
If left untreated, Hepatitis C can cause liver failure, so prevention combined with regular doctors visits for screening is important. The strength of the immune system plays a big factor in how effective Hep C treatments are, so be sure to eat right, exercise, rest, and take supplements that may help you maintain a strong immune system. This is also important for those with chronic Hep C, as there symptoms will fluctuate depending on their immune system strength.