The information provided here is meant to give you a general idea about each of the medications listed below. Only the most general side effects are included, so ask your doctor if you need to take any special precautions. Use each of these medications as recommended by your doctor, or according to the instructions provided. If you have further questions about usage or side effects, talk to your doctor.
Medications may be given to treat
C. The drugs have limited success and may produce side effects. More than one drug may be advised. Not all people are candidates for treatment with these medications. Discuss your treatment options with your doctor.
Alpha interferonsTelbivudineEntecavirLamivudineAdefovirRibavirinProtease inhibitors TelaprevirBoceprevirSimeprevirSofosbuvir
Alpha interferon is injected, usually daily or 3 times per week. It is used to treat hepatitis B and C. These medications may be given individually or in combination. You may receive treatment for about four months or longer, but time varies. Alcohol must not be consumed during treatment with interferon.
Possible side effects may include: IrritabilityAnxietyPersonality changesDepression
Flu-like symptoms such as:
FatigueMuscle achesHeadacheNausea and vomitingBone marrow suppressionAutoimmune thyroiditis
is available in liquid and tablet forms. It is appropriate for adolescents 16 years of age or older and adults with chronic hepatitis B. It is usually taken once daily. Optimal duration of therapy is unknown.
Possible side effects include: Lactic acidosis, a serious change in blood chemistryAcute exacerbations after treatment stopsUpset stomachAbdominal pain or distentionNauseaDiarrheaFatigueMyopathy and myalgia—muscular weakness or painNeuropathy—impaired nerve functionHeadacheCoughPain while swallowingJoint painFeverRashBack painInsomniaLightheadednessChanges in kidney and liver lab results
is given orally or in tablet form to adults and adolescents older than 16 years of age to treat chronic hepatitis B virus infection.
Possible side effects include: Lactic acidosis, a serious change in blood chemistryAcute exacerbations after treatment stopsDiarrheaStomach upsetNauseaVomitingFatigueHeadacheLightheadednessInsomnia
is given orally to treat chronic hepatitis B. It is usually taken daily for about one year. In some cases, it may need to be taken longer.
Possible side effects include: Enlarged liverLactic acidosis, a serious change in blood chemistryHeadacheFatigueNauseaDiarrheaNasal congestion
is given orally to adults and adolescents older than 16 years of age to treat chronic hepatitis B.
Possible side effects include: Liver toxicityKidney toxicityLactic acidosis, a serious change in blood chemistryHeadacheFatigueNauseaDiarrhea
is given orally to treat chronic hepatitis C. The pills are taken twice daily.
Possible side effects include: Severe anemiaFatigueIrritabilitySkin rash and itchingNasal congestionHeadacheChillsMuscle achesGout
Common names include: TelaprevirBoceprevirSimeprevirSofosbuvir
Protease inhibitors are used to treat hepatitis C. They interfere with viral reproduction in the body, slowing the growth of hepatitis C.
Protease inhibitors are taken in combination with other medications. It is important to remain adequately hydrated when taking them.
Possible side effects include: RashItchingAnemiaNausea or vomitingFatigueProblems with or loss of tasteAnal irritation (telaprevir)Sensitivity to light (simeprevir)
If you develop any side effects to the medicationsIf any of your symptoms worsen
If you are taking medications, follow these general guidelines: Take the medication as directed. Do not change the amount or the schedule. Ask what side effects could occur. Report them to your doctor.Talk to your doctor before you stop taking any prescription medication.Plan ahead for refills if you need them.Do not share your prescription medication with anyone.Medications can be dangerous when mixed. Talk to your doctor if you are taking more than one medication, including over-the-counter products and supplements.
Overview of acute viral hepatitis. Merck Manual Professional Version website. Available at: http://www.merckmanuals.com/professional/hepatic-and-biliary-disorders/hepatitis/overview-of-acute-viral-hepatitis. Updated July 2016. Accessed October 4, 2016.
Overview of chronic viral hepatitis. Merck Manual Professional Version website. Available at: http://www.merckmanuals.com/professional/hepatic-and-biliary-disorders/hepatitis/overview-of-chronic-hepatitis. Updated July 2016. Accessed October 4, 2016.
Viral hepatitis. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website. Available at:
Updated September 12, 2016. Accessed October 4, 2016.
Last reviewed March 2016 by David L. Horn, MD
Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.
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