Why Should I Treat Hepatitis C?

Hepatitis C can lead to major consequences, including liver damage if left untreated. Antiviral therapy is typically effective in curing infections.

Your liver is impacted by the viral virus known as hepatitis C (hep C). It may result in either chronic (long-term) or acute (short-term) sickness.

It is obvious why hep C should be treated. Chronic hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection can result in major side effects such as liver cancer and cirrhosis if left untreated.

Approximately 290,000 fatalities were attributed to hepatitis C in 2019, primarily to liver-related illnesses, according to the World Health Organisation. Kidney disease and type 2 diabetes are two more illnesses that are linked to hepatitis C.

Over 2 million adult Americans have been infected with HCV. However, most patients can anticipate a good prognosis with antiviral medication. A lower risk of dying from all causes and liver-related reasons is linked to hepatitis C treatment.

Find out the top 5 reasons to start treating hepatitis C as soon as feasible.

1. Treatment effectiveness and high cure rate

Curing the infection and preventing long-term liver damage are the two main objectives of treatment. A regimen of direct-acting antiviral medications can accomplish that in most situations. With a 95% cure rate, these drugs are often quite successful and well tolerated.

When you experience a sustained virologic response (SVR) following three months of treatment, your HCV infection is deemed cured. It follows that tests are unable to identify the virus in your blood. Eliminating the virus is linked to a decline in disease and fatalities. Even with extensive liver impairment, you can still live a normal life.

2. Reduced risk of liver failure

Hepatitis C assaults the liver. Even if you are symptom-free, this could still be taking place. Hep C can result in cirrhosis, a disorder where scar tissue obstructs liver blood flow if treatment is not received. Furthermore, your liver's ability to process blood and filter pollutants is compromised if you have cirrhosis.

Liver failure, commonly referred to as end stage liver disease, can develop over time as a result of persistent inflammation and scar tissue accumulation. This indicates that the majority or all of your liver's functionality has been lost. Eventually, the only treatment left is a liver transplant.

The American Liver Foundation states that the most frequent cause of liver transplantation is chronic hepatitis C. Furthermore, liver cancer is an increased risk associated with hepatitis C.

Your liver function should start to improve and your liver enzymes should usually revert to their pre-hep C levels once you reach SVR from antiviral medication. More serious damage to your liver might not recover, although less damage might.

These and additional consequences can be avoided with early identification and treatment.

3. Improved extrahepatic manifestations of hep C

There are effects of Hep C beyond the liver. Extrahepatic symptoms, or problems unrelated to the liver, affect about 75% of hep C patients. These may consist of:
  • insulin resistance
  • type 2 diabetes
  • chronic kidney disease
  • non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma
  • cardiovascular disease
A rare condition known as mixed cryoglobulinemia may also be influenced by a persistent hepatitis C infection. It's an immune system malfunction caused by aberrant blood proteins.

Furthermore, almost 50% of hep C patients experience symptoms like:
  • fatigue
  • depression
  • illnesses that impair cognitive function
A 2019 review of the literature states that treating hep C can alleviate or even cure some of these problems, reducing the chance of disease and death.

4. Lower risk of transmission

Relapse occurs in less than 1% of cases where individuals reach SVR. For this reason, your doctor might wish to run another blood test on you in the upcoming year. When you reach SVR, your bloodstream is clear of the virus, making it impossible for you to spread.

However, it's crucial to keep in mind that SVR does not offer reinfection protection. Hepatitis C can recur.

A bloodborne virus is hepatitis C. It is spread from person to person through blood and blood derivatives. Sharing pharmacological equipment or using medical or tattoo equipment that hasn't been adequately sterilised can expose oneself to the virus.

If you haven't attained SVR yet, you can still spread the virus while receiving therapy. Observe your physician's advice to prevent this.

There isn't a vaccination available to prevent hepatitis C at this time. However, you may want to think about receiving a hepatitis A and B vaccination.

5. Improved quality of life and mental health

The majority of patients handle antiviral medication well, and it is safe. According to a 2019 research review, eliminating the virus is linked to a higher quality of life.

According to certain research, antiviral medication treatment may enhance:
  • depression
  • anxiety
  • alexithymia (having trouble identifying emotions)
  • mental and physical health, as well as overall wellbeing
According to a 2018 study, individuals with hep C who took antiviral treatment saw improvements in their general quality of life, anxiety, and sadness. Participants in the study said that their progress accelerated after they obtained SVR and started soon after they started medication.

The takeaway

A dangerous illness that has the potential to become chronic and fatal is hepatitis C. However, receiving therapy can help avert further health issues, such as liver damage. Antiviral therapy is also recognised to enhance the general quality of life and mental health.

After completing antiviral therapy, the virus is cured in the majority of patients, allowing them to live normal lives.

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