What Is The Prognosis/outlook For Patients Who Have Hepatitis A
Most cases of hepatitis A are short-lived, but the disease doesnt always look the same for everyone. Some people have short illnesses that only last a few weeks and have mild symptoms. Others can be very ill for several months. Hepatitis A is rarely fatal, but death has happened due to liver failure brought on by HAV. This tends to happen more often in people who are over 50 years old or and in people who have another liver condition.
What Causes Hepatitis A
Hepatitis A is caused by infection with the hepatitis A virus. You get the virus when you unknowingly eat a small amount of infected feces. This can happen through person-to-person contact, or through eating or drinking contaminated food or water.
A person can have and spread hepatitis A, even if that person does not have any symptoms. You are most likely to get hepatitis A from another person when:
- A person who has the virus does not wash their hands properly after going to the bathroom
- A parent does not wash their hands properly after changing the diaper of an infected child
- A caregiver does not wash their hands properly after cleaning up the stool of an infected person
- A person has sex with a person who has the virus
You can also get infected with hepatitis A by eating contaminated food or drinking contaminated water. Contaminated food and water are more common in developing countries. When traveling in areas where hepatitis A is common, avoid eating raw fruits and vegetables, shellfish, ice, and untreated water.
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 .
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Is Hepatitis A Contagious
Hepatitis A Transmission
Hepatitis A is a type of liver infection caused by a virus termed hepatitis A . Symptoms, if they occur, start about 2 to 6 weeks after exposure to HAV. About 80% of adults have symptoms while children seldom show symptoms. Symptoms of hepatitis A may include the following:
- Nausea and/or vomiting
- Joint pain
Vaccination Against Hepatitis A
Vaccination against hepatitis A is not routinely offered in the UK because the risk of infection is low for most people.
It’s only recommended for people at an increased risk, including:
- close contacts of someone with hepatitis A
- people planning to travel to or live in parts of the world where hepatitis A is widespread, particularly if sanitation and food hygiene are expected to be poor
- people with any type of long-term liver disease
- men who have sex with other men
- people who inject illegal drugs
- people who may be exposed to hepatitis A through their job this includes sewage workers, people who work for organisations where personal hygiene may be poor, such as a homeless shelter, and people working with monkeys, apes and gorillas
The hepatitis A vaccine is usually available for free on the NHS for anyone who needs it.
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How Is The Virus Spread
Hepatitis A virus is usually spread from person to person by putting something in the mouth that has been contaminated with the stool of a person with hepatitis A. This type of transmission is called the “fecal-oral” route. For this reason, the virus is more easily spread in areas where there are poor sanitary conditions or where good personal hygiene is not observed.
Most infections in the United States result from contact with a household member or sex partner who has hepatitis A.Hepatitis A virus may also be spread by consuming food or drink that has been handled by an infected person. Waterborne outbreaks are infrequent and are usually associated with sewage-contaminated or inadequately treated water. Casual contact, as in the office, factory or school setting, does not spread the virus.
Who Should Get The Hep A And Hep B Vaccines
Hepatitis A vaccine is made of killed hepatitis A viruses and causes the body’s immune system to produce antibodies against the hepatitis A virus. In the United States, hepatitis A vaccination is recommended for all children at 1 year of age and for individuals in high-risk settings.
Most individuals who receive hepatits B vaccine develop protective antibodies when they get the vaccine. In the United States, hepatitis B vaccination is recommended for all infants at birth, older children and adolescents who did not receive it at birth, and adults in high-risk situations.
A combination vaccine called hepatitis-b-hepatitis-a-vaccine injection protects against both hepatitis A and hepatitis B.
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Whos At Risk For Hepatitis C
You might be more likely to get it if you:
- Inject or have injected street drugs
- Were born between 1945 and 1965
- Got clotting factor concentrates made before 1987
- Received a blood transfusion or solid organ transplants before July 1992
- Got blood or organs from a donor who tested positive for hepatitis C
- Are on dialysis
Managing Fever After Immunisation
Common side effects following immunisation are usually mild and temporary . Specific treatment is not usually required.There are a number of treatment options that can reduce the side effects of the vaccine including:
- Drinking extra fluids to drink and not overdressing if there is a fever.
- Although routine use of paracetamol after vaccination is not recommended, if fever is present, paracetamol can be taken check the label for the correct dose or speak with your pharmacist .
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How You Can Get Hepatitis A
Hepatitis A is most widespread in parts of the world where standards of sanitation and food hygiene are generally poor, such as parts of Africa, the Indian subcontinent, the Far East, the Middle East, and Central and South America.
You can get the infection from:
- eating food prepared by someone with the infection who has not washed their hands properly or washed them in water contaminated with sewage
- drinking contaminated water, including ice cubes
- eating raw or undercooked shellfish from contaminated water
- close contact with someone who has hepatitis A
- less commonly, having sex with someone with hepatitis A or injecting drugs using contaminated equipment
Someone with hepatitis A is most infectious from around 2 weeks before symptoms appear until about a week after symptoms first develop.
When Will Symptoms Appear After You Have Been Exposed To Hav
It generally takes about 4 weeks for symptoms to appear, but they can start at 2 weeks or they can start up to 8 weeks after you have been exposed. You probably wont get every symptom immediately, but they tend to emerge over days.
Also, you can have no symptoms and have the virus and be contagious. Children especially may be free of symptoms despite being infected.
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Keep Personal Items Personal
Any tools or implements that may have a bit of blood on them from infected people are potential sources of hepatitis B or C transmission. Toothbrushes, nail clippers, razors, needles, and washcloths may all contain trace amounts of blood that can transmit infection. Keep personal items such as these to yourself and never use personal items that belong to others.
How Is It Treated
There are no special treatments for hepatitis A. Most people will feel sick for a few months before they begin to feel better. A few people will need to be hospitalized. During this time, doctors usually recommend rest, adequate nutrition, and fluids. People with hepatitis A should check with a health professional before taking any prescription pills, supplements, or over-the-counter medications, which can potentially damage the liver. Avoid alcohol.
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How Is Hepatitis A Diagnosed
Your healthcare provider will listen to your symptoms and will take a blood test to confirm the diagnosis of hepatitis A. If the test finds immunoglobulin M antibodies, you have an acute hepatitis A. If there are antibodies, but not IgM antibodies, you are immune to the virus either because you had a case of it and recovered, or you got the hepatitis A vaccine.
Who Should Get Vaccinated
- Children ages one year and older.
- Travelers to countries that have high rates of hepatitis A.
- Family members or caregivers of a recent adoptee from countries where hepatitis A is common.
- Men who have sexual contact with other men.
- Users of injection and non-injection illegal drugs.
- People with chronic liver diseases, such as hepatitis B or hepatitis C.
- People who are treated with clotting-factor concentrates.
- People who work with hepatitis A infected animals or in a hepatitis A research laboratory.
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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
Sharing Drinks With Others: Can I Actually Catch A Disease
One thing that has become very clear over the last decade or so is how thirsty we’ve all become. It seems like everyone has a bottle of water or some other drink with them at all times. Which is probably good — the health benefits of water are well-known.
But all these bottles of water floating around lead to a lot of sharing drinks with others. Probably because it’s so easy to do . Plus, you have the age-old “ooh that looks good, can I have a sip of that?” to try someone else’s drink.
So this leads to the question — is sharing drinks healthy? Can you catch diseases or other sicknesses from sharing drinks?
The answer is a resounding “yes” — some diseases/sicknesses, anyway. Since there’s almost certain to be saliva involved in any sharing of drinks, salivary transfer of germs/viruses/etc. is going to happen. The most common are the ones you’d expect . We’re talking strep throat, the common cold, and mumps being the big three. There’s also the rarer meningitis.
Those are the main ones that can be transmitted via saliva. There are a few more I’d like to mention — I’ve gone on extensively about cold sores here in my blog posts, which can be transmitted via saliva and kissing, so we can safely add that one to the list as well. And there’s also mononucleosis, which is sometimes called the “kissing disease” — that can go on the list, too.
You know what that says to me? That says don’t share forks with someone who has hepatitis B.
Until next time, keep smiling!
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Can Hepatitis A Be Prevented
Yes. The hepatitis A vaccine is recommended for all children over 1 year old. The vaccine is given at 12 months of age, followed by a second dose at least 6 months later. Having many young kids vaccinated against HAV can limit the spread of the disease in a community.
The vaccine can be given as early as 6 months of age to babies who will travel to a place where hepatitis A is common .
The vaccine also is recommended for older kids, teens, and adults who have never gotten it.
The best way to prevent hepatitis A and many other infections is to wash hands well and often. This is especially important after using the toilet and before eating or preparing food.
How Do People Get Hepatitis A
Hepatitis A virus is found in the stool of people with HAV infection. It enters the body through the mouth after someone handles something contaminated with HAV, or eats or drinks something contaminated with HAV.
People usually get hepatitis A by having close contact with a person who is infected, from food or drinks prepared by someone who is infected, or by eating shellfish harvested from sewage-contaminated water. After the virus enters the body, there is an incubation period lasting 2 to 7 weeks until illness begins.
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What Is Viral Hepatitis
Viral hepatitis is an inflammation of your liver that’s caused by a virus. There are five types, but the most common ones in the U.S. are hepatitis A, B, and C. All of them affect your liver. Some of the symptoms are similar, but they have different treatments.
Hepatitis A. This type won’t lead to long-term infection and usually doesn’t cause any complications. Your liver heals in about 2 months. You can prevent it with a vaccine.
Hepatitis B. Most people recover from this type in 6 months. Sometimes, though, it causes a long-term infection that could lead to liver damage. Once you’ve got the disease, you can spread the virus even if you don’t feel sick. You won’t catch it if you get a vaccine.
Hepatitis C. Many people with this type don’t have symptoms. About 80% of those with the disease get a long-term infection. It can sometimes lead to cirrhosis, a scarring of the liver. There’s no vaccine to prevent it.
How Does Hepatitis C Spread
Hepatitis C is spread only through exposure to an infected person’s blood.
High-risk activities include:
- Sharing drug use equipment. Anything involved with injecting street drugs, from syringes, to needles, to tourniquets, can have small amounts of blood on it that can transmit hepatitis C. Pipes and straws to smoke or snort drugs can have blood on them from cracked lips or nosebleeds. Get into a treatment program if you can. At the very least, don’t share needles or equipment with anyone else.
- Sharing tattoo or piercing tools. Nonsterile items and ink can spread contaminated blood.
- Blood transfusions in countries that donât screen blood for hepatitis C.
- Nonsterile medical equipment. Tools that arenât cleaned properly between use can spread the virus.
- Blood or cutting rituals. Sharing the tools or exchanging blood can transmit hepatitis C.
Medium-risk activities include:
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How Do You Get Hepatitis B
You also can get it if you:
- Have direct contact with infected blood or the body fluids of someone who’s got the disease, for instance by using the same razor or toothbrush as someone who has hepatitis B, or touching the open sores of somebody who’s infected.
- If you’re pregnant and you’ve got hepatitis B, you could give the disease to your unborn child. If you deliver a baby who’s got it, they need to get treatment in the first 12 hours after birth.
How Is Hepatitis A Transmitted
HAV is highly contagious. It is spread primarily when a person ingests the virus from food, drinks, or objects that have been contaminated by small amounts of stool from an infected person sex with an infected person, particularly if it involves anal-oral contact and through injection drug use. In crowded, unsanitary conditions, HAV can be spread quickly and cause outbreaks by exposure to contaminated water or food .
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