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Chronic hepatitis B is incurable, but medications exist to help slow the virus and the resulting liver damage. Pharmaceutical companies have created useful hepatitis B medicine, and many people still seek the benefits of natural medicines and herbal supplements. A combination of medicine, a healthy diet, and the avoidance of alcohol and tobacco may prevent serious liver damage later in life.
Two helpful types of hepatitis B medicine are interferon alfa and pegylated interferon. Interferon is a synthesized version of a protein released by the body to fight infections. Both interferon alfa and pegylated interferon are administered through injections, and patients usually use each drug for six months to one year. Pegylated interferon generally requires only one injection per week, whereas interferon alfa requires numerous doses each week. Side effects of both drugs include depression and flu-like symptoms.
Those who suffer from chronic hepatitis B may also benefit from medications ingested in pill form. Types of hepatitis B medicine available in pill form include lamivudine, adefovir dipivoxil, entecavir, telbivudine, and tenofovir. When using any of these medications, the typical dosage is one pill each day, and the treatment usually lasts for one year or longer.
Fewer hepatitis B medicines are available for children. Doctors may prescribe interferon alpha injections for children, but only adults should take pegylated interferon. Many medications available in pill form are for adults only as well, but lamivudine is safe for both children and adults. Parents should ask their pediatricians about each of the possible drug treatments to ensure the safety of the chosen medication.
Many people rely on natural remedies for hepatitis B such as licorice root, artichoke, and milk thistle. People use licorice root in powder, liquid, or tincture form for its antiviral properties. Hepatitis B may hinder the liver’s ability to produce bile, and patients sometimes use artichokes to help regulate bile production. Milk thistle protects and regenerates cells by strengthening the liver’s outer cell membranes and stimulating the production of proteins. It is important to check with a medical professional before taking herbal supplements or home remedies for hepatitis B because some natural medicines, such as kava, can increase the risk of liver damage.
Not all victims of hepatitis B need medication. Patients should ask their doctors whether or not a particular hepatitis B medicine is appropriate. Discussing the pros and cons of the drug regimen with a liver specialists may be a fitting course of action as well.
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