Interferon in hepatitis

Interferon is sometimes used to treat both hepatitis B and hepatitis C. The dose of interferon and duration of treatment is different in each condition. Inteferon is only given by injection: it is not available in pill form.

The side effects of interferon are numerous, but the majority of people manage to complete therapy without loss of work or other major interruption. Nevertheless, about 1/5 of persons, in my experience, experience significant side effects, and about 1/10 of perons are unable to complete the treatment. The most serious side effects are psychological and include depression and irritability. Depression can be severe enough to lead to suicide. Other side effects include thinning of hair, which usually grows back once interferon is stopped; rashes, which usually subside during treatment; thyroid disorders; and fevers, headaches and muscle pains, which generally are prominent for the first few doses and then become less of a problem. There are also other, rarer side effects which may or may not be caused by the drug. Treatment with interferon requires careful monitoring of blood work, and any depressive symptoms should be taken very seriously. Dosage adjustments during treatment are very common.

Several different pharmaeutical firms manufacture or distribute interferon. There are some differences among the interferons, but no one manufacturer's interferon is known to be definitely superior to another. The major long-acting interferons sold today include

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