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What are the side effects of hepatitis C treatments?

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Quick Answer

While the side effects of hepatitis C treatments vary with the particular medicine used, effects common to most or all of the medicines include gastrointestinal discomfort, insomnia, flu-like symptoms and depression, according to WebMD. Proper treatment is critical to avoid permanent liver damage.

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Full Answer

Historically, the standard medical treatment for hepatitis C has been interferon in concert with several other drugs, generally ribavirin and a choice between telaprevir and boceprevir. However, newer treatments, such as sofosbuvir and simeprevir, involve fewer side effects, according to WebMD.

Interferon has the most sever side effects, including flu-like symptoms, pain resembling arthritis in the joints and back, gastrointestinal distress, low blood cell counts, depression and insomnia, states WebMD. Ribavirin involves all of the same symptoms except the arthritis-like symptoms, and while victrelis does not lead to depression, it can cause hair loss.

There are several ways to reduce the side effects associated with hepatitis C treatment, notes WebMD. Taking the interferon shot at bedtime means the patient may be wakened when aches and fever start, but taking acetaminophen or ibuprofen about an hour before the shot can minimize those symptoms. Some hepatitis C sufferers add an anti-depressant if the treatment causes depression. Taking medications at mealtime can cut down on gastrointestinal dress.

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