If you or a loved one has been diagnosed with hepatitis C, it’s natural to wonder if the condition can be cured. As a viral infection that can attack and damage the liver, hepatitis C is one of the most serious hepatitis viruses.
Read on to learn more about whether hepatitis C can be cured, and what you can do to help prevent it.
Does Everyone Need Treatment?
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that up to one out of four people who contract the hepatitis C virus will eventually be cured from the condition without treatment.
This fortunate minority will avoid having the infection become chronic and more serious. Although it’s possible for the virus to disappear in this way, it’s not clear what causes the infection to go away for this group.
Are There Medicines to Cure Hepatitis C?
The most common form of treatment for the chronic form of hepatitis C is a combination of the antiviral medicines ribavirin and interferon. The goal of treatment with these medications is to rid your body of the virus.
These drugs can slow down, and in some cases stop, the virus’ attack on your liver. Your doctor or a liver specialist will monitor your treatment to determine its effectiveness.
Is There a Vaccine to Prevent Hepatitis C?
Although prevention is often the best cure, there is currently no vaccine to help protect people from getting hepatitis C.
There are vaccines for other hepatitis viruses, including hepatitis A and hepatitis B. According to the CDC, researchers are working toward developing a vaccine for hepatitis C as well.
However, if you are diagnosed with hepatitis C, your doctor may advise you to get vaccinated against hepatitis A and hepatitis B. This is because these viruses can also lead to liver damage and complications during treatment of hepatitis C.
Can a Transplant Cure Hepatitis C?
If you develop chronic hepatitis C, an infection that becomes long-lasting and can lead to liver cancer or liver failure, you may need a liver transplant.
A liver transplant removes a damaged liver and replaces it with a healthy organ. But the National Digestive Diseases Information Clearinghouse (NDDIC) notes that it’s possible for hepatitis C to return even after a transplant.
To make the treatment effective, it will be important to take the medications that your doctor prescribes in order to keep you healthy.
Are Alternative Medicines Available?
Certain forms of alternative medicine are believed by some to help cure hepatitis C. However, the Mayo Clinic reports that there are no research-proven forms of alternative treatment or complementary medicine for hepatitis C.
Milk thistle is an herb commonly suggested to help cure liver disease. But a study published in JAMA found that milk thistle was no more effective than a placebo in treating patients with hepatitis C.
What is the Prognosis?
According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), it’s definitely possible to have a positive response to treatment of hepatitis C. A successful treatment means that the hepatitis C virus can’t be detected in your blood anymore.
The NIH also notes that because new treatments are in development by researchers who are trying to cure hepatitis C, the outlook for patients is getting better as well.
If you have hepatitis C, it’s important to follow your doctor and healthcare team’s treatment instructions. Antiviral drugs and other treatments must be taken the correct way to be effective.
If you have a liver transplant, the procedure’s success requires taking certain medications afterward. These medications can help reduce the chances of the virus returning.
If in doubt, be sure to ask your doctor about the most effective way to manage your treatments.