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I have hepatitis... now what?


Viral hepatitis is a disease that consists of inflammation of the liver and is caused by a virus. In previous articles we talked about the different types of hepatitis that exist, what their symptoms are and their main ways of contagion. In this last article we will address the treatment options that currently exist for this disease.

Viral hepatitis can occur in a mild form, when its duration is less than six months. In these cases, people often heal spontaneously, and drug treatments are not necessary. But in some cases this disease can end up being chronic and then attention from health professionals is necessary.

General recommendations for hepatitis

When a person has viral hepatitis they can lead a normal life, but there are a series of recommendations that are important to keep in mind:

  • You must follow a healthy and balanced diet, since the liver processes and filters everything you eat and drink.
  • Practice regular physical exercise whenever possible, depending on your general condition.
  • Give up alcohol consumption, since people with hepatitis C or B who drink alcohol, even moderately, have a higher risk of developing cirrhosis and also suffering from liver cancer.

Furthermore, for people with hepatitis B and C that have become chronic, there are currently very effective pharmacological treatments. “In the case of hepatitis B we have very good medications, which are given orally. But these medications do not cure the disease. They control it and ensure that the virus remains undetectable in the blood, but if we stop the medication, it reappears,” explains Dr. Xavier Forn, head of the Hepatitis Unit at the Hospital Clínic in Barcelona, ​​Spain.

Not all patients with hepatitis B virus infection need treatment. In some patients, the immune system manages to control the virus naturally and have a very low viral load with normal tests. This condition is known as inactive carrier and has a very good prognosis without the need for treatment. In acute hepatitis, treatment with antivirals is only indicated in the case of severe hepatitis. If acute hepatitis does not have severity criteria, it is not necessary to start treatment since in 95% of cases the infection resolves on its own.

In the case of hepatitis C, however, there are medications that can cure it. “We have medications that are administered orally and that are very safe. They are given for a short period of time, 8 to 12 weeks, and 99% of patients are cured without side effects. Obviously if the patient, for whatever circumstances, has an advanced disease, follow-up must continue, even if the virus has disappeared from the body,” continues Dr. Xavier Forn.

The importance of prevention

In addition to these treatments once the infection occurs, there are also vaccines that help prevent infection. In the case of hepatitis B, this is effective in 95% of cases and its protection lasts more than 20 years. It is true, however, that there are still no vaccines for hepatitis C, so prevention in this case is essential.

In any case, even if contagion occurs, Dr. Xavier Forn wants to give a message of peace of mind. “What I would say to a patient who has been diagnosed with hepatitis is simple. We have very good medicines, increasingly better, and therefore you should not be nervous. Nowadays it is very rare for a person with hepatitis to have severe consequences for their health. “I am very optimistic and in a few years we will be even more so.”


"Because prevention is better than cure"

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