Hepatitis A: Causes Symptoms And Treatment
Hepatitis A is a highly contagious liver disorder caused by the hepatitis A virus which results in inflammation and affects the normal functioning of the liver. Hepatitis causes inflammation of the liver due to exposure of chemicals, overuse of alcohol or infections.
Hepatitis A is more common in places where the sanitation is poor, it spreads via contaminated food or water and close contact with an infected person. Mild cases of hepatitis settle down on its own and dont require any treatment, patients recover without any damage to the liver. Also Check Out: Protect Yourself From Hepatitis Infections!
How Is It Tested For And Diagnosed
After you discuss your symptoms with your doctor, they may order a blood test to check for the presence of a viral or bacterial infection. A blood test will reveal the presence of the hepatitis A virus.
Some people have only a few symptoms and no signs of jaundice. Without visible signs of jaundice, its hard to diagnose any form of hepatitis through a physical examination. When symptoms are minimal, hepatitis A can remain undiagnosed. Complications due to a lack of diagnosis are rare.
Symptoms Of Hepatitis A
You can become ill any time between 2 and 4 weeks after coming into contact with the hepatitis A virus.
The average incubation period for the virus is 28 days.
Many infected people, particularly children less than 5 years old, show few or no symptoms.
For older children and adults, the symptoms of hepatitis A include:
- yellow skin and eyes .
Symptoms may last for several weeks. Most people fully recover from hepatitis A infection.
A single infection of hepatitis A leads to lifelong immunity. Prior infection with hepatitis B or hepatitis C does not offer immunity for hepatitis A.
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Who Is At Risk Of Getting Hepatitis A
Hepatitis A is usually spread from person to person, making it highly contagious. However, certain factors can increase your risk of contracting it, including:
- living in an area where hepatitis A is common, including most countries with low sanitation standards or a lack of safe water
- injecting or using illegal drugs
- living in the same household as someone who is hepatitis A-positive
- having sexual activity with someone who is hepatitis A-positive
- being HIV-positive
Transmission: How Does Hepatitis A Spread
After the virus has entered the organism, it travels to the liver and replicates in the liver cells. Once the replication is complete, the cell is destroyed, and virus particles enter the bile, which then travels to the intestines and into the stool. A person infected with hepatitis A excretes the virus through feces. The virus is able to survive outside of the body for months, and is resistant to very low temperatures, although high temperature kills it. Once outside of the body, the virus can contaminate water, food and other objects.
This has lead to several outbreaks of hepatitis A in the United States in the past years. In the outbreak of 2016, there were 15000 cases reported, 8500 people needed to get hospitalized, and 140 people died until March 2019.
- The most common ways of getting infected include eating contaminated food and drinking contaminated water.
- Other ways include drug use, having sex, or via close contact with an infected person.
- In the United States, there have been many reported cases of people getting infected with hepatitis A by eating raw or frozen imported food. Eating raw or undercooked shellfish is also a common way of infection.
- Although hepatitis A is a global problem, there are some areas in which the occurrence of the disease is higher: India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Nepal, Africa, Far East , the Middle East, South and Central America.
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How Do You Test For Hepatitis A
If youve been in contact with someone who has had hepatitis A, are at risk of getting hepatitis A, or if you start to have symptoms its a good idea to talk to a healthcare professional. A simple blood test will show whether you have the virus.
If you test positive, they may also do another type of blood test to check if your liver is working properly. You should also be tested for other STIs.
Its important that you tell people you live with or have close contact with, and your recent sexual partner/s so they can also get tested. Many people who have hepatitis A dont notice anything wrong, and by telling those youre in close contact with you can help to stop the virus being passed on.
Chronic Hepatitis B Treatment
For hepatitis B, treatment is aimed at controlling the virus and preventing damage to the liver. Antiviral medications are available that will benefit most people, but the medications need to be chosen carefully, and the treatment needs to be monitored in order to assure successful treatment and to prevent or treat medication-related side effects. For some individuals, the risks of treatment may not be justified.
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How Long Does Hepatitis A Last
How long it lasts can vary from person to person. Symptoms can range from mild to severe. Some things to keep in mind:
- Mild hepatitis A may last 1 to 2 weeks.
- Most people are much better within 3 weeks.
- Young children who get symptoms usually get better within 2 months.
If you have a severe infection, it can cause problems for several months. You may need to stay in the hospital.
Some people have symptoms that can last more than 3 months or have problems that come and go for 3 to 9 months.
Can Hepatitis A Be Prevented Or Avoided
The best way to protect yourself against hepatitis A is to get the vaccine. The hepatitis A vaccination is recommended for all children older than age 1. It begins to protect you only 4 weeks after you are vaccinated. A 6- to 12-month booster is required for long-term protection. Ask your doctor if the vaccination is right for you.
You should also wash your hands with soap and warm water before and after cooking, after using the bathroom, and after changing diapers.
Wash fruits and vegetables thoroughly before eating and avoid raw or undercooked meat and fish.
You are at higher risk for hepatitis A if you:
- Live with or have sex with someone who has hepatitis A
- Travel to countries where hepatitis A is common
- Are a man who has sex with other men
- Use illegal drugs
- Have a clotting-factor disorder
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How Do You Get Hepatitis A
Hepatitis A can be spread by sexual contact with an infected person or close personal contact . However, it is most often spread by what scientists call the fecal-oral route. This happens when one person eats or drinks something that has small amounts of fecal matter from another person who has hepatitis A. This can happen by touching something that has the virus on it and then putting your hands in your mouth. It can happen when food is grown, picked, processed or served. Water can also be contaminated.
Mothers do not pass on hepatitis A in breast milk. You cannot be infected with HAV by sitting near to or hugging someone with hepatitis A. It does not spread through coughs or sneezes.
What Happens With Hepatitis A
Viral diseases generally are contagious. Hepatitis A is highly contagious. It usually is spread from person to person via a fecal-oral route, meaning via fecal contamination of food. It usually is a mild hepatitis, and many people do not know they are infected. The virus is eliminated by the body rapidly, and it does not cause long-term damage. Good hand washing hygiene helps prevent hepatitis A.
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Sex And Dirty Needles
Hepatitis A can also be passed on through sex without a condom or dental dam with someone who has the virus, even if they dont have symptomsIn particular, via anal sex, fingering, rimming, fisting, or exploring the area around the anus with your fingers, mouth or tongue. Touching used condoms, sex toys and douching equipment that have been in someone elses anus can also pass the virus on.
You can protect yourself by:
- Knowing the status of your sexual partners.
- Using a new male or female condom or dental dam every time you have vaginal, anal or oral sex.
- Using a new dental dam or latex gloves for rimming and fingering or using latex gloves for fisting.
- Covering sex toys with a new condom and wash them after use.
- Avoiding sex that involves contact with faeces .
- Washing your hands after touching someones anus or handling used condoms and sex toys.
- Using a new condom for every sexual partner and having regular STI tests.
- Having the hepatitis A vaccine if youre in close contact with someone with hepatitis A or if youre in a high-risk group. This can also be provided as prophylaxis if provided within two weeks of exposure.
Sharing contaminated needles and syringes during recreational drug use can also pass hepatitis A on. Make sure you use new injecting equipment every time you inject drugs.
Pre-exposure prophylaxis does not prevent you from getting hepatitis A, nor does the contraceptive pill or other forms of contraception .
How Is Hepatitis A Spread
The hepatitis A virus is found in the stool and blood of people who are infected. The hepatitis A virus is spread when someone ingests the virus, usually through:
Eating contaminated food or drink
Contamination of food with the hepatitis A virus can happen at any point: growing, harvesting, processing, handling, and even after cooking. Contamination of food and water happens more often in countries where hepatitis A is common. Although uncommon, foodborne outbreaks have occurred in the United States from people eating contaminated fresh and frozen imported food products.
Hepatitis A can be prevented with a safe and effective vaccine.
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What Causes Hepatitis A
Hepatitis A is caused by the hepatitis A virus . The virus is spread when one person ingests tiny unseen pieces of fecal matter from an infected person. It takes about two to seven weeks after exposure to the virus for symptoms to start.
Water and ice can be contaminated with HAV. Raw shellfish from contaminated water can cause hepatitis A, as can other foods that are not cooked, such as fruits and vegetables.
What Are The Signs And Symptoms Of Hepatitis A
- Many people with HAV infection have no symptoms at all.
- Sometimes symptoms are so mild that they go unnoticed.
- Older people are more likely to have symptoms than children.
- People who do not have symptoms can still spread the virus so it is difficult to know when a person has been exposed to the virus.
Symptoms of hepatitis A usually develop between 2 and 6 weeks after infection. The symptoms are usually not too severe and go away on their own, over time. The most common hepatitis A symptoms are as follows:
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A Healthy Diet Can Help
For some people living with HCV, eating a healthy diet can help manage symptoms. Because the virus causes inflammation, diets that avoid fatty foods, salt, sugar, alcohol, and fried foods may reduce symptoms like nausea and diarrhea. Drinking lots of water to stay hydrated is also a good way to help your body, especially your liver.
I try to eat right without smoking or drinking.
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.
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Are There Home Remedies For Hepatitis A
The following measures can help you feel better while you are having symptoms.
- Take it easy curtail normal activities and spend time resting at home.
- Drink plenty of clear fluids to prevent dehydration.
- Avoid medicines and substances that can cause harm to the liver such as acetaminophen and preparations that contain acetaminophen.
- Avoid alcoholic beverages, as these can worsen the effects of HAV on the liver.
- Avoid prolonged, vigorous exercise until symptoms start to improve.
Be very careful about personal hygiene to avoid fecal-oral transmission to other members of the household.
Who Is At Risk
Anyone who has not been vaccinated or previously infected can get infected with the hepatitis A virus. In areas where the virus is widespread , most hepatitis A infections occur during early childhood. Risk factors include:
- poor sanitation
- living in a household with an infected person
- being a sexual partner of someone with acute hepatitis A infection
- use of recreational drugs
- travelling to areas of high endemicity without being immunized.
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How Can I Prevent Spreading Hepatits A To Others
If you have hepatitis A, you can reduce your chance of spreading the infection by washing your hands with warm, soapy water after using the toilet and before fixing or eating food. While you are sick, avoid close contact with others, and donât prepare food or serve food to others. Also, tell your doctor, dentist, and other health care professionals that you have hepatitis A.
Talk with a blood donation center before you donate blood. If you had hepatitis A when you were younger than 11, you may be able to donate blood. If you had hepatitis A when you were age 11 or older, you should not donate blood.
You are most contagiousâable to spread the virus to othersâduring the 2 weeks before you have symptoms. You may be contagious for up to 3 weeks after you develop symptoms. Children are often contagious longer than adults.
How Common Is Hepatitis A
Since the hepatitis A vaccine was first recommended in 1996, cases of hepatitis A in the United States have declined dramatically. Unfortunately, in recent years the number of people infected has been increasing because there have been multiple outbreaks of hepatitis A in the United States. These outbreaks have primarily been from person-to-person contact, especially among people who use drugs, people experiencing homelessness, and men who have sex with men.
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Questions To Ask Your Doctor
- Do I need treatment?
- What treatment is best for me?
- Will I need be hospitalized?
- Are there any medicines I should avoid taking?
- Are there foods I should avoid eating?
- Can I drink alcohol?
- How can I protect my family from getting hepatitis A?
- If Ive had hepatitis A, am I at higher risk of getting other types of hepatitis?
- Will I have permanent liver damage?
- How soon before I travel should I be vaccinated?
How Does Hepatitis B Spread
Persons infected with hepatitis B can pass the virus to others through blood or body fluids. In the U.S., the most common way of becoming infected is through unprotected sex, although sharing an infected person’s needles to inject illicit drugs also is quite common. Less common ways are by contaminated razors or toothbrushes. As previously mentioned, hepatitis B is passed from infected mother to infant in over 90% of cases.
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What Are The Symptoms Of The Hepatitis A Virus
Low energy is the most common symptom of HAV. Other symptoms include fever, tiredness, loss of appetite, nausea, headache, itchy skin, muscle soreness, pain near the liver, and jaundice .
Symptoms of HAV can occur two to seven weeks after infection and are often mild. Children may not have any symptoms. Symptoms usually go away within two months. If you think you have HAV, it is important to see a doctor symptoms of HAV are similar to other more serious liver diseases.
Symptoms Of Hepatitis A: What Should You Watch Out For
While younger children rarely have any symptoms, older children and adults may experience several symptoms related to the liver disease, including:
- Pain in the upper right quadrant of the abdomen
- Light colored stool
The disease usually lasts for a couple of months, but can last for up to six months. Also, some people are more susceptible to the disease than the others. The risk groups include:
- People living in areas with poor sanitation
- Drug users
- People sharing a household with an infected person
- Sexual partners of people infected with hepatitis A
- People lacking access to safe water
- People traveling to areas with higher occurrence of the disease
Not all people who get infected have the symptoms of the disease, but since the incubation period is from 14 to 28 days, an infected person usually experiences symptoms from to to four weeks after the infection.
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What Causes Hepatitis A And How Is It Contracted
People develop hepatitis A infection after contracting HAV. This virus is typically transmitted by ingesting food or liquid contaminated with fecal matter that contains the virus. Once transmitted, the virus spreads through the bloodstream to the liver, where it causes inflammation and swelling.
In addition to transmission from eating food or drinking water containing HAV, the virus can also be spread by close personal contact with an infected person. HAV is contagious, and a person who has hepatitis A can easily pass the disease to others living in the same household.
You can contract hepatitis A by:
- eating food prepared by someone with the hepatitis A virus
- eating food handled by preparers who dont follow strict hand-washing routines before touching food that you eat
- eating sewage-contaminated raw shellfish
- not using condoms when having sex with someone who has the hepatitis A virus
- drinking polluted water
- coming in contact with hepatitis A-infected fecal matter
If you contract the virus, you will be contagious two weeks before symptoms even appear. The contagious period will end about one week after symptoms appear.