Hepatitis C Treatment

Reviewed by Ruthann Cunningham, MD, June 12, 2017

How is hepatitis C treated?

Sometimes mild liver issues are left alone without therapeutic treatment. Your doctor may do what's called "watchful waiting" before starting treatment for hepatitis C. Before any serious treatment begins, there needs to be a confirmatory diagnosis of chronic hepatitis C. Chronic hepatitis C is diagnosed when antibodies are present for more than 6 months. It's important to note that there are other major health conditions that can be confused clinically with chronic hepatitis C so RNA testing is typically ordered to confirm the diagnosis. Courses of antiviral medications like interferon, ribavirin, and combination therapies are used to manage the virus and liver function.

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Antiviral medications can clear the virus.

Chronic hepatitis C can be treated over time with medicine as needed. While these medications can be very effective in managing the virus and liver symptoms, they can have serious side effects and may need to be stopped in certain cases.

Liver failure can be treated with a new, transplanted liver.

A last resort for livers on the verge of failure is a transplant. During a transplant, the surgeon removes the damaged liver and replaces it with a healthy one.

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