Who Should Get The Hepatitis A Vaccine
The Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices recommends that all children in the U.S. get vaccinated against hepatitis A at age 12 months. However, if an infant aged 6-11 months will be traveling to a country with a significant number of people with hepatitis A, the child should get one dose before leaving the U.S. The child should then get 2 doses separated by 6 to 18 months when the child is between 12 months and 23 months.
You should also get the hepatitis A vaccine if you fall into one of the following groups:
- Men who have sexual contact with other men.
- Users of any type of illegal drugs.
- People with blood clot disorders, such as hemophilia.
- People who have chronic liver disease.
- Homeless people.
- People who will be closely involved with a person being adopted from a country with high rates of hepatitis A infections.
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?
Complications Of Hepatitis A
Around 10% of people who have had hepatitis A experience a relapse . Most people who have a relapse fully recover.
Hepatitis A does not cause chronic liver disease.
The severity of the disease is more severe in older age groups.
Complications of hepatitis A are rare, but the infection can lead to fulminant hepatitis. This is an acute form of hepatitis that can cause liver failure. The risk of death from fulminant hepatitis increases with age.
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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.
Hepatitis B In The United States
In the United States, about 862,000 people have chronic hepatitis B.6 Asian Americans and African Americans have higher rates of chronic hepatitis B than other U.S. racial and ethnic groups.10 Researchers estimate that about half of the people living with chronic hepatitis B in the United States are Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders.11 Chronic hepatitis B is also more common among people born in other countries than among those born in the United States.7
The hepatitis B vaccine has been available since the 1980s and, in 1991, doctors began recommending that children in the United States receive the hepatitis B vaccine. The annual rate of acute hepatitis B infections went down 88.5 percent between 1982 and 2015.12 In 2017, the annual number of hepatitis B infections rose in some states.13 Experts think the rise was related to increases in injection drug use. Injection drug use increases the risk of hepatitis B infection.
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Screening For Viral Hepatitis
The purpose of screening for viral hepatitis is to identify people infected with the disease as early as possible, even before symptoms and transaminase elevations may be present. This allows for early treatment, which can both prevent disease progression and decrease the likelihood of transmission to others.
Hepatitis A causes an acute illness that does not progress to chronic liver disease. Therefore, the role of screening is to assess immune status in people who are at high risk of contracting the virus, as well as in people with known liver disease for whom hepatitis A infection could lead to liver failure. People in these groups who are not already immune can receive the hepatitis A vaccine.
Those at high risk and in need of screening include:
- People with poor sanitary habits such as not washing hands after using the restroom or changing diapers
- People who do not have access to clean water
- People in close contact with someone who has hepatitis A
- People who use illicit drugs
- People with liver disease
- People traveling to an area with endemic hepatitis A
The presence of anti-hepatitis A IgG in the blood indicates past infection with the virus or prior vaccination.
The CDC, WHO, USPSTF, and ACOG recommend routine hepatitis B screening for certain high-risk populations. Specifically, these populations include people who are:
Hepatitis B and C
Diet For People With Hepatitis
There is no special diet specific for hepatitis, but you need to follow a healthy diet that is low in fat, cholesterol, and sodium. Make sure complex carbohydrates and lean protein is the base of each meal. Include lots of fruits and vegetables, whole grains , lean protein , low-fat or non-fat dairy products, and healthy fats .
According to dietitians, you should fill one-quarter of your plate with high-fiber carbohydrates like whole grains, one-quarter with lean protein sources, and the remaining half with fruits and vegetables.
Also, you should drink plenty of fluids to help your body better process food and function well. Water is the best option. Experts suggest drinking 1 ounce of liquid for every 2 pounds of body weight each day. This means a person who weighs 180 pounds should drink 90 ounces of water a day.
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Signs & Symptoms Of Hepatitis A
Hepatitis A symptoms range from mild to severe. Some infected people dont experience any noticeable symptoms, especially children under the age of six. The symptoms usually appear anywhere from two to six weeks after exposure to the virus. For some, the infection will last for a few weeks, but for others, the symptoms continue for months.
The most common symptoms of hepatitis A include :
- light-colored stool
- dark-colored urine
In older children and adults,jaundice occurs in more than 70 percent of cases. Jaundice causes a yellow discoloration to the skin and eyes. It can also darken your urine and lighten the color of your stool. This occurs in hepatitis A patients because their livers cannot metabolize red blood cells that are breaking down, which causes a buildup of bilirubin.
Complementary And Alternative Medicines And Therapies
Many complementary and alternative medicines available suggest they can ease the symptoms of liver disease. As with any other medicine, you should use them with care before taking any medicine you should check with your doctor that it is safe to do so.
Most medicines are processed by the liver so they can be toxic to people with liver problems. Some can damage the liver and make you more severely ill. At present, healthcare professionals are not clear on the role and place of some complementary medicines in managing liver disease more research is needed on their use.
Licensing has been introduced for some traditional herbal medicines. However, many herbal products are not classified as a medicine and so can be legally sold as food or cosmetic this means there is no regulation of the product and so you cannot be sure how much of the active ingredient you are getting, or how pure it is. Unregulated products are not monitored or assessed for how effective or safe they are. Some remedies can damage the liver and make you more severely ill. It is wise to be cautious about the claims made about herbal remedies, particularly those advertised on the internet.
It is very important to discuss the use of these remedies with your doctor before considering taking them.
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Natural Ways To Prevent & Help Treat Hepatitis A
Luckily, there are a few natural ways to prevent, and also help treat, hepatitis A. These options range from dietary choices to stress management to strategies to help avoid contracting the disease in the first place.
1. Eat a Healthy, Well-Balanced Diet
The term hepatitis means inflammation of the liver. One of the most important actions to take to help treat the symptoms of hepatitis A is sticking to a clean, well-balanced and anti-inflammatory diet. Eating anti-inflammatory foods can help to regulate your immune system and allow your body to heal quickly. These foods are also rich in antioxidants, vitamins, minerals and healthy fats that are vital for your bodys recovery.
Heres a breakdown of the foods that you should be consuming on a daily basis, especially as your body is recovering from an infection like hepatitis A:
- green leafy vegetables, including kale, spinach and Swiss chard
- fresh vegetables, like broccoli, cabbage, celery and beets
- root vegetables, like sweet potatoes and carrots
- fresh fruit, especially blueberries, pineapple and citrus fruits
- organic meat and wild fish
- nuts and seeds, especially walnuts, chia seeds, hemp seeds and flaxseeds
- anti-inflammatory spices, like turmeric, cayenne and ginger
- healthy fats, especially avocados, ghee, coconut oil and olive oil
- probiotic-rich yogurt and kefir
- gluten-free grains like quinoa, brown rice, oats and millet
2. Stay Hydrated
3. Get Plenty of Rest and Reduce Stress
4. Try Peppermint Oil
5. Drink Ginger Tea
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 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.
Precautionary Treatment After Exposure
If a person has not been vaccinated, and they know they have been exposed to HAV, they can still receive either the vaccine or immune globulin within 2 weeks of the exposure.
This may include:
- colleagues of a food handler who has tested positive for HAV
- employees and children in a daycare center where someone has received a diagnosis of HAV
- anyone in close personal contact with a person who has HAV, including nurses or carers
Which treatment they should receive will depend on the age and health status of the person.
Prevention depends on immunization and good hygiene practices.
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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
Can Bleach Or Cleaner Kill Hepatitis A
Disinfectant that contains bleach can kill the hepatitis A virus on hard non-porous surfaces like toilet seats. However, freezing does not kill HAV.
If you cook food that is contaminated for one minute at cooking temperatures higher than 185ºF , it will kill HAV. However, food can be contaminated after cooking, so it is very important to wash your hands well with soap and water.
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What Is Hepatitis A
Hepatitis A is a viral infection that causes liver inflammation and damage. Inflammation is swelling that occurs when tissues of the body become injured or infected. Inflammation can damage organs.
Viruses invade normal cells in your body. Many viruses cause infections that can be spread from person to person. The hepatitis A virus typically spreads through contact with food or water that has been contaminated by an infected persons stool.
Hepatitis A is an acute or short-term infection, which means people usually get better without treatment after a few weeks. In rare cases, hepatitis A can be severe and lead to liver failure and the need for an emergency liver transplant to survive. Hepatitis A does not lead to long-term complications, such as cirrhosis, because the infection only lasts a short time.
You can take steps to protect yourself from hepatitis A, including getting the hepatitis A vaccine. If you have hepatitis A, you can take steps to prevent spreading hepatitis A to others.
Preventing Foodborne Illness At Home
Hepatitis A can have serious health consequences. The CDC advises the post-exposure prophylaxis described above for unvaccinated persons who have consumed any products contaminated by the hepatitis A virus.
To prevent hepatitis A contamination or transmission, consumers should always practice safe food handling and preparation measures by following the steps below:
- Wash hands with warm water and soap for at least 20 seconds before and after handling raw foods.
- Thoroughly wash hands after using the bathroom and changing diapers for protection against hepatitis A, as well as other foodborne diseases.
- Wash the inside walls and shelves of the refrigerator, cutting boards and countertops, and utensils that may have contacted contaminated foods then sanitize them with a solution of one tablespoon of chlorine bleach to one gallon of hot water dry with a clean cloth or paper towel that has not been previously used.
- Wash hands with warm water and soap following the cleaning and sanitation process.
- Consumers can also submit a voluntarily report, a complaint, or adverse event related to a food product.
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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.
Diet And Nutrition For Hepatitis
The impairment of liver function frequently causes various type of malnutrition, as the liver is one of the most important organs involved in maintaining nutritional homeostasis. Therefore, dietary or nutritional support can restore impaired liver function and improve the prognosis in patients with liver damage. This Special Issue contains nine peer-reviewed articles, including five original articles, which aim to establish novel nutritional interventions for various types of liver damage.
Hepatoprotective medicines are often prescribed to patients with drug-induced hepatitis. However, Nega et al. elucidate beneficial protective effects of probiotic Bacillus spores against acetaminophen-induced hepatic injury in mice . Bacillus species have strong resistance to heat, toxic chemical compounds, and radiation. Thus, spore-forming probiotic bacteria are recognized as a promising alternative to Bifidobacterium and Lactobacillus strains. This study indicates that the probiotic Bacillus spores may make the intestinal barrier stronger and decrease the dissemination of microbial-derived compounds from the intestine, leading to an alleviation of endotoxemia.
In conclusion, this Special Issue provides many novel insights into how diet and nutrition can affect liver diseases for the readers of Nutrients. As a guest editor, I greatly appreciate the authors who submitted articles to this Special Issue and the reviewers who gave valuable feedback to the authors.
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Who Is More Likely To Get Hepatitis B
People are more likely to get hepatitis B if they are born to a mother who has hepatitis B. The virus can spread from mother to child during birth. For this reason, people are more likely to have hepatitis B if they
- were born in a part of the world where 2 percent or more of the population has hepatitis B infection
- were born in the United States, 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
People are also more likely to have hepatitis B if they
- are infected with HIV, because hepatitis B and HIV spread in similar ways
- have lived with or had sex with someone who has hepatitis B
- have had more than one sex partner in the last 6 months or have a history of sexually transmitted disease
- are men who have sex with men
- are injection drug users
- work in a profession, such as health care, in which they have contact with blood, needles, or body fluids at work
- live or work in a care facility for people with developmental disabilities
- have been on kidney dialysis
- live or work in a prison
- had a blood transfusion or organ transplant before the mid-1980s
In the United States, hepatitis B spreads among adults mainly through contact with infected blood through the skin, such as during injection drug use, and through sexual contact.12