Hepatitis is an inflammatory conditions of the liver which is commonly caused by a viral infection. The condition may also be caused by medications, drugs, toxins, and alcohol. According to the 2014 statistics from the Center for Disease Control, in every 100,000 people of the American population, about 2,204 have hepatitis C.
Hepatitis C is caused by the hepatitis C virus and is transmitted through direct contact with infected body fluids such as injection drug use and sexual contact. This type of hepatitis is known to be one of the most common bloodborne viral infections in the United States.
Symptoms of hepatitis include loss of appetite, fatigue, mild fever, muscle or joint aches, nausea, vomiting, and pain in the belly. Some patients also experienced dark urine, light colored stools, jaundice, itchiness, mental changes, and internal bleeding.
Doctors prescribe pharmaceutical drugs and will suggest other forms of treatment depending on the type of hepatitis that the patient has contracted. Liver transplants are only advised by the doctor if the liver has already been severely damaged.
Hepatitis C Treatment
Interferons and ribavirin are usually the prescribed medications in managing hepatitis but there are currently different types of drugs that have been newly approved for treatment of the disease.
Interferons helps the immune system fight of the virus. However, it might cause anxiety, dry mouth, excessive fatigue, headache, mood changes, depression, weight loss, and might worsen the symptoms of hepatitis. It might also cause more serious effects in the long term such as autoimmune diseases, reduced red blood or white blood cell levels, high blood pressure, reduced thyroid function, changes in vision, liver disease, lung disease, inflammation of the pancreas, allergic reaction, and slowed growth in children.
Ribavirin works by stopping the hepatitis virus from replicating and spreading. However, usage might cause headaches, muscle pain, dry mouth, nausea, vomiting, stomach pain, loss of appetite, weight loss, tiredness, irritability, anxiety, mood changes, pain, swelling, and irritation (if administered via injection).
Direct-acting antivirals (DAAs) work by attacking the virus directly. Usage may cause side effects such as anemia, diarrhea, fatigue, headaches, nausea, and vomiting.
The new hepatitis drugs such as Zepatier and Technivie might cause side effects such as fatigue, headaches, upset stomach, nausea, and diarrhea.
Hepatitis and Medical Marijuana
Because of the side effects of the pharmaceutical drugs (especially interferons) on viral hepatitis patients, medical marijuana may be used by patients alongside their hepatitis treatment plan. Because of its anti-inflammatory effects, medical marijuana may also be used to relieve liver inflammation due to viral hepatitis.