Conventional Medical Treatments for Viral Hepatitis


What is viral hepatitis?

Hepatitis is an inflammatory condition of the liver. Viral hepatitis occurs when hepatitis is caused by a virus. It can be spread through contact with bodily fluids of an infected person or through consumption of contaminated food or water. The most common types of viral hepatitis include hepatitis A, B, C, D, and E.

Conventional treatment options for viral hepatitis vary depending on the specific type of hepatitis. Treatment also depends on whether the hepatitis is acute or chronic.

Acute hepatitis treatment options

Specific medical treatments — beyond rest, adequate hydration, and symptom relief — are typically not needed for acute hepatitis.

  • Acute hepatitis A
    If hepatitis A is caught in the early stages, the infection can be eradicated with the hepatitis A vaccine or hepatitis A immune globulin.
  • Acute hepatitis B
    Acute hepatitis B does not require specific medical treatment.
  • Acute hepatitis C
    Acute hepatitis C is rare; however, when it does occur, it can be treated using some of the same medications used to treat chronic hepatitis C.
  • Acute hepatitis E
    Acute hepatitis E does not require specific medical treatment.

Chronic hepatitis treatment options

Treatments for chronic viral hepatitis vary depending on the type of hepatitis. The most common conventional medical treatments include medications designed to eradicate the virus, which can help prevent damage to the liver.

  • Chronic hepatitis B
    Treatments for chronic hepatitis B include the medications entecavir, tenofovir, telbivudine, interferon alfa-2b, and peginterferon alfa-2a. Medication treatment may be needed for up to six months.
  • Chronic hepatitis C
    Chronic hepatitis C treatment options include the medications simeprevir, daclatasvir, sofosbuvir, ombitasvir, elbasvir, and glecaprevir. Similar to the treatment for chronic hepatitis B, medication treatment may be needed for up to six months.
  • Chronic hepatitis D
    The most common medication prescribed for chronic hepatitis D is alpha interferon. Since hepatitis D only occurs in conjunction with hepatitis B, medications for hepatitis B may also be prescribed.
  • Chronic hepatitis E
    Although hepatitis E is most often acute, chronic hepatitis E can be treated with peginterferon alfa-2a and ribavirin.

Some individuals with chronic viral hepatitis do not require treatment. If progressive liver damage does not occur, treatment with antiviral medications may not be needed.