Hepatitis is a viral disease that attacks the liver, sometimes causing significant problems, including liver damage and liver failure.
The most common types of hepatitis in the United States are hepatitis A, B, and C. There are vaccines to help prevent the first two types but currently no vaccine for hepatitis C.
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services estimates as many as 4.7 million Americans may be infected with hepatitis C, and many may not even know it. That’s because hepatitis C often causes no symptoms until liver damage has occurred.
Fortunately, hepatitis C is curable, which is definitely good news. But the treatment regimen for hepatitis C has changed dramatically, and many people remain confused about or unaware of their treatment options, leading to delays in care.
As a leading internal medicine practice in Miami, Florida, I & B Medical Associates offers comprehensive care for patients diagnosed with hepatitis C infections.
Older treatment regimens for hepatitis C relied on a special class of proteins called interferons, which play a role in managing immune system responses. While effective in helping cure hepatitis C, they came with major side effects.
Today’s hepatitis C treatments use antiviral drugs, replacing interferons and eliminating the associated side effects.
Hepatitis C was once considered notoriously difficult to treat successfully, but antiviral drugs have changed that too. Cure rates of 95% or higher now are routinely achieved. Adhering to your dosing schedule (taking medications as prescribed, for as long as prescribed) is key.
Older treatment plans were plagued with serious and unpleasant side effects that lowered quality of life. As a result, many people didn’t follow their treatment plans, rendering them ineffective.
Today’s antiviral medications are associated with fewer side effects, and most side effects — like headaches, nausea, or fatigue — are relatively mild. Many patients experience no side effects during treatment.
Older interferon-based treatments could last for a year or more. And because those treatments often involved significant side effects, sticking to therapy for a long time was even more problematic. Today’s antiviral medications typically involve therapies that last 8-12 weeks.
When antiviral treatment was first introduced, availability was limited and the high cost was prohibitive for many people. But today, generic versions have improved both their distribution and price point, making treatment far more accessible.
Many insurance plans cover the cost of treatment, and when insurance falls short, assistance programs can help cover at least some of the cost.
As with most chronic diseases and infections, hepatitis C responds best to early treatment. Hepatitis C typically causes no symptoms early on, and while it remains undetected, it can continue to cause liver damage.
The CDC recommends screening for all adults, with repeat screenings for people in at-risk groups. Screening is also recommended for pregnant women.
If you’ve been diagnosed with hepatitis C or you’d like to be screened for the infection, we can help. Call I & B Medical Associates at 786-321-2399 today or book an appointment online.