Treatment For Hepatitis A
There is no specific treatment for hepatitis A. In most cases, your immune system will clear the infection and your liver will completely heal. Treatment aims to ease symptoms and reduce the risk of complications. Options may include:
- Rest hepatitis A can make you tired and lacking in energy for day-to-day life, so rest when you can.
- Eat small meals more often nausea can affect your ability to eat and can contribute to tiredness, so eat small amounts of high-calorie foods often if nausea is a problem.
- Drink fluids.
- Protect your liver the liver processes medication and alcohol, so avoid alcohol and review any medication with your doctor.
What Is Viral Hepatitis
Hepatitis means inflammation of the liver. The liver is a vital organ that processes nutrients, filters the blood, and fights infections. When the liver is inflamed or damaged, its function can be affected. Heavy alcohol use, toxins, some medications, and certain medical conditions can cause hepatitis. However, hepatitis is often caused by a virus. In the United States, the most common types of viral hepatitis are hepatitis A, hepatitis B, and hepatitis C.
Are Hepatitis B And C Preventable
Hepatitis B is a vaccine-preventable disease.
There is a three-shot vaccination series that is very effective in protecting people against the virus if theyre exposed. In the United States, all newborns are vaccinated for hepatitis B and all pregnant women are screened for hepatitis B during pregnancy. This way, mothers infected with hepatitis B can take protective steps to decrease the risk of transmission of the virus to the child.
There is no vaccine for hepatitis C.
Don’t Miss: Hepatitis C Virus Ab 0.1
Life Expectancy And Prognosis
Can you die from hepatitis? Technically, the complications of chronic hepatitis C are fatal. About 30,000 people in the U.S. die each year from cirrhosis.
How long can you live with untreated hep C? The disease affects everyone differently, so thereâs no rule. But about 70% to 80% of people with will get chronic help C. Within 20 years, about 20% to 30% of those people will get cirrhosis. From there, it depends on what type of cirrhosis you have, your treatment, and if you can get a liver transplant.
Can hepatitis C go away on its own? Yes. From 15% to 20% of people with hep C clear it from their bodies without treatment. Itâs more likely to happen in women and people who have symptoms. But it usually happens between 4 and 18 months after symptoms start.
How Is Hepatitis A Treated
HAV usually goes away on its own within six months.
Doctors often recommend bed rest, drinking lots of fluids, eating a healthy diet and avoiding alcohol. Medicines are not used to treat HAV. Talk to your doctor before taking prescription or over-the-counter drugs, vitamins or herbal supplements.
Itchy skin caused by HAV can be treated with non-prescription anti-itch medicine.
It is important to see your doctor regularly to make sure your body has fully recovered from the virus. Also, talk to your doctor about getting vaccinated for hepatitis B.
Don’t Miss: Hep C Without Hepatic Coma Meaning
Hepatitis A Immunisation Is Recommended For High
In Victoria, the vaccine is recommended for:
- people travelling to places where hepatitis A is common
- people whose work puts them at increased risk of infection including:
- plumbers and sewage workers
- people who work with children
- people who work with people with developmental disabilities
Remember that immunisation against hepatitis A does not protect you against hepatitis B or hepatitis C.
What Causes Hepatitis A
The hepatitis A virus causes this type of hepatitis and spreads through contact with an infected persons stool. Contact can occur by
- eating food made by an infected person who did not wash his or her hands after using the bathroom
- drinking untreated water or eating food washed in untreated water
- placing a finger or an object in your mouth that came into contact with an infected persons stool
- having close personal contact with an infected person, such as through sex or caring for someone who is ill
You cannot get hepatitis A from
- being coughed on or sneezed on by an infected person
- sitting next to an infected person
- hugging an infected person
A baby cannot get hepatitis A from breast milk.4
You May Like: Side Effects Of Hepatitis C Medication
Contact The Hepatitis Infoline For More Information
Have questions about the causes of liver damage and disease? Get in touch with the Hepatitis Infoline and have your questions answered today. You can also browse our key services if youd like to know more about how we can help you understand hepatitis A, B, C and your liver.
Your health is more than just about your liver. If you want other information about your health, see our Commonwealth partner HealthDirect.
How Does Hepatitis Affect The Body
Typically, symptoms for all types of hepatitis occur once the infection begins causing damage to the liver. In acute cases, symptoms develop quickly and in chronic instances, signs may take up to 6 months to begin showing concern.
General signs and symptoms for acute and chronic hepatitis
All hepatitis types will have the following signs and symptoms in common:
- Flu-like symptoms
- Abdominal pain
- Loss of appetite and unexplained weight loss
- Dark urine
Other signs and symptoms for hepatitis A
- Muscle aches
- Clay-coloured stools
Other signs and symptoms for hepatitis B and D
- Abdominal discomfort
- Tan-coloured stools
All symptom for hepatitis B must be assessed and treated by a medical professional as quickly as possible to prevent an infection developing into HDV and further health complications. If you are exposed to the virus and can seek treatment within the first 24 hours following exposure, an infection can be prevented with prompt medical attention.
A HDV infection may not always display obvious symptoms but when they do, they are very similar to those of hepatitis B. Symptoms of HDV can often make those of HBV worse, which can make diagnosis a little trickier.
Other signs and symptoms for hepatitis C
- Abdominal discomfort
- Itching skin
If there are already signs of damage to your liver, you will display the following symptoms:
Other signs and symptoms for hepatitis E
- Liver enlargement
- Nausea and vomiting
Non-viral hepatitis signs and symptoms
Read Also: How Does A Person Contract Hepatitis C
Joint And Muscle Pain
A condition called arthralgia causes joint pain and is common in people with hepatitis C. Itâs different from arthritis, which causes pain and swelling in joints. But infected people can also get hepatitis C-related arthritis.
Fibromyalgia, which causes body aches and muscle pain, is also common in people with hepatitis C.
Reducing The Risk Of Hepatitis A
Protecting yourself from hepatitis A
The most important action you can take to protect yourself against hepatitis A is to get vaccinated.
Practising strict personal hygiene is also essential to reducing the risk of hepatitis A. Steps you can take include:
- Wash your hands with soap and hot running water before handling food, after going to the toilet and after handling used condoms or having contact with nappies or the anal area of another person. Use a clean towel to dry your hands.
- Use barrier protection when engaging in oral-anal sex and avoid sex with someone who is infected with the hepatitis A virus.
- Vaccination may prevent illness if given within 2 weeks of contact with an infectious person.
- Clean bathrooms and toilets often, paying attention to toilet seats, handles, taps and nappy change tables.
- Boil your drinking water if it comes from an untreated source, such as a river.
- If you are travelling overseas, particularly to countries where hepatitis A is widespread, take special care to avoid hepatitis A. Before travelling, talk to your doctor about immunisation for protection.
Protecting others from hepatitis A
If you have hepatitis:
- Wash eating utensils in soapy water, and machine wash linen and towels.
Household contacts and sexual partners of an infectious person may need to be immunised.
All people who have hepatitis A should check with their doctor before returning to work or school.
Protecting yourself from hepatitis A when overseas
Read Also: What R The Symptoms Of Hepatitis C
How The Liver Works
The liver is found tucked up under the ribcage on the right-hand side of the abdomen, and you should not normally be able to feel it. It is a large organ, typically weighing between 1200 and 1500 grams, usually being slightly heavier in men.
The liver is vital to good health, being responsible for:
Processing protein and fat
Making bile, which breaks down fats in food so it can be absorbed from the gut.
Storing body fuel which is made from sugar, and broken down into readily available glucose to be released into the bloodstream when needed.
Helping make clotting factors that help the blood to clot.
Removing toxic substances from the body such as alcohol and poisons.
Hepatitis And The Liver
Hepatitis means inflammation of the liver. The liver is important for a range of functions in the body. These include regulating metabolism, making proteins, storing vitamins and iron, removing toxins and producing bile.
If the liver doesnt work properly, it can cause serious illness or sometimes even death.
Chronic hepatitis means ongoing inflammation of the liver, irrespective of the underlying cause.
Also Check: Hepatitis C And Liver Cancer
What Causes Autoimmune Hepatitis
Your immune system normally attacks bacteria, viruses and other invading organisms. It is not supposed to attack your own cells if it does, the response is called autoimmunity. In autoimmune hepatitis, your immune system attacks your liver cells, causing long-term inflammation and liver damage. Scientists dont know why the body attacks itself in this way, although heredity and prior infections may play a role.
Too Much Vitamin A From Supplements
Your body needs vitamin A, and itâs fine to get it from plants such as fresh fruits and vegetables, especially those that are red, orange, and yellow. But if you take supplements that have high doses of vitamin A, that can be a problem for your liver. Check with your doctor before you take any extra vitamin A because you probably donât need it.
You May Like: How Do Contract Hepatitis C
How Is Viral Hepatitis Spread
Hepatitis A and hepatitis E usually spread through contact with food or water that was contaminated with an infected person’s stool. You can also get hepatitis E by eating undercooked pork, deer, or shellfish.
Hepatitis B, hepatitis C, and hepatitis D spread through contact with the blood of someone who has the disease. Hepatitis B and D may also spread through contact with other body fluids. This can happen in many ways, such as sharing drug needles or having unprotected sex.
How Long Before I Have Symptoms
Many people have mild symptoms or no symptoms, which is why hepatitis is sometimes called a âsilentâ disease.
Hepatitis A. The symptoms usually show up 2 to 6 weeks after the virus enters your body. They usually last for less than 2 months, though sometimes you can be sick for as long as 6 months.
Some warning signs that you may have hepatitis A are:
Hepatitis B. The symptoms are the same as hepatitis A, and you usually get them 3 months after you’re infected. They could show up, though, anywhere from 6 weeks to 6 months later.
Sometimes the symptoms are mild and last just a few weeks. For some people, the hep B virus stays in the body and leads to long-term liver problems.
Hepatitis C. The early symptoms are the same as hepatitis A and B, and they usually happen 6 to 7 weeks after the virus gets in your body. But you could notice them anywhere from 2 weeks to 6 months later.
For about 25% of people who get hep C, the virus goes away on its own without treatment. In other cases, it sticks around for years. When that happens, your liver might get damaged.
Remember, it’s possible to spread all the types of hepatitis even if you don’t show any signs of being sick.
Don’t Miss: Is There A Vaccine Available For Hepatitis B
What Treatments Are Available For Chronic Hepatitis B If Medications Dont Work
If you have advanced hepatitis B, you might also become a candidate for a liver transplant. This path does not always result in a cure because the virus continues in your bloodstream after a transplant. To prevent being infected again after your transplant, you may be prescribed hepatitis B immunoglobulin with an antiviral agent.
If I Have Hepatitis How Can I Avoid Giving It To Someone Else
If you have hepatitis B and C, you need to find ways to keep others from making contact with your blood. Follow these tips:
- Cover your cuts or blisters.
- Carefully throw away used bandages, tissues, tampons, and sanitary napkins.
- Don’t share your razor, nail clippers, or toothbrush.
- If your blood gets on objects, clean them with household bleach and water.
- Don’t breastfeed if your nipples are cracked or bleeding.
- Don’t donate blood, organs, or sperm.
- If you inject drugs, don’t share needles or other equipment.
You May Like: Is Hepatitis Curable In Humans
How Do Doctors Treat The Complications Of Hepatitis B
If chronic hepatitis B leads to cirrhosis, you should see a doctor who specializes in liver diseases. Doctors can treat the health problems related to cirrhosis with medicines, minor medical procedures, and surgery. If you have cirrhosis, you have an increased chance of liver cancer. Your doctor may order blood tests and an ultrasound or another type of imaging test to check for liver cancer.
If chronic hepatitis B leads to liver failure or liver cancer, you may need a liver transplant.
Can You Prevent Getting Hepatitis A
If you are at risk of hepatitis A, it is recommended that you are vaccinated to lower your risk of becoming infected. The vaccine works by causing your body to make antibodies which will stop you becoming infected if you come into contact with the virus.
Hepatitis A can be given as a sole vaccine or in combination with other vaccines such as Typhoid fever and/or hepatitis B.
Please see the downloadable publication below for full information.
Immunisation is one way to protect yourself from getting hepatitis A, however no vaccine is 100% guaranteed. To protect yourself further you should:
- make sure you practise good hygiene
- avoid eating raw or not quite cooked shellfish, raw salads, vegetables and fruits that may have been washed in unclean water. Also avoid foods that may have been grown close to the ground, such as strawberries
- avoid drinking untreated drinking water including ice cubes and only use treated or bottled water when brushing your teeth
- avoid unpasteurised milk, cheese, ice cream and other dairy products
- avoid pre-prepared foods such as buffets or foods from street vendors which you have not seen being cooked, foods which are served at room temperature or could have had flies on them
- have safer sex use a condom or a dental dam
- never share anything you use for injecting or snorting drugs and/or steroids.
If you have been diagnosed with hepatitis A, reducing the risk of spreading the infection is important. You should:
Recommended Reading: How Much Is Hepatitis C Treatment
Prevent Infection After Contact With The Virus
If you think you have been in contact with the hepatitis B virus, see your doctor right away. Doctors typically recommend a dose of the hepatitis B vaccine to prevent infection. In some cases, doctors may also recommend a medicine called hepatitis B immune globulin to help prevent infection. You must get the vaccine dose and, if needed, HBIG shortly after coming into contact with the virus, preferably within 24 hours.
Should I Be Screened For Hepatitis B
Screening is testing for a disease in people who have no symptoms. Doctors use blood tests to screen for hepatitis B. Many people who have hepatitis B dont have symptoms and dont know they are infected with hepatitis B. Screening tests can help doctors diagnose and treat hepatitis B, which can lower your chances of developing serious health problems.
Your doctor may recommend screening for hepatitis B if you9,14
- are pregnant
- were born in an area of the world where 2 percent or more of the population has hepatitis B infection, which includes Africa, Asia, and parts of the Middle East, Eastern Europe, and South America
- didnt receive the hepatitis B vaccine as an infant and have parents who were born in an area where 8 percent or more of the population had hepatitis B infection, which includes sub-Saharan Africa and parts of Asia
- are HIV-positive
- are a man who has sex with men
- have lived with or had sex with a person who has hepatitis B
- have an increased chance of infection due to other factors
Also Check: Is There A Home Test For Hepatitis C
Liver Damage From Hepatitis C
Liver damage from hepatitis C starts when the virus enters the cells of the liver . When a virus enters the body, it needs to find a place where it can reproduce or replicate in order to survive. HCV can enter a number of different cells in the body for this purpose. However, hepatocytes are the key site for replication. When HCV enters a liver cell, it uses the chemicals in that cell to help it reproduce and generate copies of itself. It releases these new copies into the bloodstream and they travel to other liver cells to begin the cycle of replication again. The process of reproduction inside a liver cell can result in cell damage or destruction to the cell. However, most of the damage to hepatocytes occurs because of the body attempting to fight invasion by HCV. When the body detects an invader such as HCV, the immune system launches an immune response, sending many different cells and chemical to the site of infection to destroy the virus. In the process of this attack, infected cells are often destroyed along with the virus.1
Inflammation of the liver, which characterizes HCV infection, results from the immune response to HCV invasion. Because HCV is good at staying ahead of the immune system, the immune response is seldom successful at eliminating the virus from the body. Instead, an insufficient immune response continues, resulting in chronic inflammation. Liver cells are destroyed in the process of this immune response and, over time, fibrosis progresses.1