Treatment And Manifestation Of Hepatitis A And B
Hepatitis A has an incubation time of two to six weeks. Hepatitis B only manifests after two to six months. Often patients with hepatitis A and B infection have moderate to no signs of the infection.
In persons who show symptoms, they will get flu-like symptoms, which will occur about three to ten days before symptoms of the liver develop.
Thereafter, the urine will darken, and jaundice may grow. With jaundice, the skin and the whites of a person’s eyes have a yellow hue. The inflamed liver cannot conduct its normal biochemical processes, so a material called bilirubin increases in the body.
Typically, you tend to feel healthy when you have jaundice, even though you keep looking worse.
In hepatitis A the jaundice stage only lasts for about one week. After that, you’ll continue to heal and usually feel like your usual self within a month. You are immune for life after recovering from hepatitis A.
In hepatitis B, the jaundice stage is about two weeks.
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
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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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 Hepatitis E
Hepatitis E, also called enteric hepatitis , is similar to hepatitis A, and more prevalent in Asia and Africa. It is also transmitted through the fecal-oral route. It is generally not fatal, though it is more serious in women during pregnancy and can cause fetal complications. Most patients with hepatitis E recover completely.
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.
Who Gets Hepatitis A
Anyone can get hepatitis A, but certain persons are at increased risk of infection, including:
- Children and adults living in areas with increased rates of hepatitis
- Persons traveling to countries where hepatitis A is common
- Men who have sex with men
- Injecting and non-injecting drug users
- Sexual contacts of infected persons
- Household contacts of infected persons
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How Is Hepatitis A Spread
The hepatitis A virus is usually spread by putting something in your mouth that is contaminated with the virus. The virus is found in the stool of people with hepatitis A and is spread when someone’s stool accidentally contaminates food or water. This can happen when an infected person does not adequately wash their hands after using the bathroom then touches other things such as food. When other people eat that food, they can get infected with hepatitis A. Usually the transmission is between people in very close personal contact.
Foods themselves can be contaminated with hepatitis A virus, such as raw oysters harvested from sewage-contaminated water. When people eat food contaminated with hepatitis A virus, they can get infected with the virus.
Hepatitis A is usually spread through:
- household contact with an infected person
- sexual contact with an infected person
- eating or drinking contaminated food or water
- sharing eating utensils that are contaminated
- touching contaminated surfaces and then placing your hands near or in the mouth
Immunisation Against Hepatitis A
Immunisation is the best protection against hepatitis A infection and is recommended for people in high-risk groups, and for unvaccinated people who have been in close contact with someone who has hepatitis A.
Immunisation against hepatitis A includes a course of injections over a 6 to 12-month period. Healthy people 12 months of age and over receive 2 doses of hepatitis A vaccine, or 3 doses if the hepatitis A and hepatitis B vaccines are given as a combination.
You can complete any missed vaccine doses, even if the recommended time frame has passed. You do not need to start the vaccine course again.
If you are in close contact with someone who has hepatitis A be sure to have the hepatitis A vaccine if you have not already completed a vaccine course.
Babies under 12 months of age and people who have a weakened immune system who are also in close contact with a person with hepatitis A can have an injection of normal human immunoglobulin instead of the hepatitis A vaccine.
Protection against hepatitis A is available free of charge under the National Immunisation Program Schedule for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children who live in high-risk areas .
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Causes Of Hepatitis A
Hepatitis A is caused by a virus. The virus can survive for several hours outside the body but persists on the hands and in food for even longer. It is resistant to heating and freezing.
The virus is spread when it enters the mouth, which can happen when hands, foods or other items are contaminated with the faeces of a person with hepatitis A. The disease can also be spread sexually by oral or anal contact.
A person with hepatitis A is infectious from 2 weeks before they show symptoms to one week after they become jaundiced .
If an infected person has no jaundice, they may pass on the virus until 2 weeks after they first have symptoms . Caution is advised beyond this period as the virus can be shed in stools for longer periods.
How Can I Keep From Getting This Disease
Wash your hands with soap and warm water before and after cooking, after using the bathroom, and after changing diapers.
Before you travel outside the United States, ask your doctor if you should get a hepatitis A shot. You also should get the shot if you use illegal drugs, have anal sex, received clotting factor concentrates, or have liver disease. Children younger than one year should not get the shot.
If you come into contact with someone who has hepatitis A and you have never had the disease or had a hepatitis A shot, you should see your doctor right away. He or she will give you a shot that can help keep you from getting sick.
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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.
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 The Treatment For Hepatitis
Each type of hepatitis is treated differently.
Hepatitis A often goes away on its own and home treatment is all that is needed to help the liver recover, such as:
- Avoiding alcohol
- Avoiding certain medicines that can be harmful to the liver
Hepatitis B often goes away on its own in about 6 months, and can also be treated at home with the above remedies. Other treatments for hepatitis B include:
- Antiviral medications
- Liver transplant in severe cases
Treatment for hepatitis C is effective on certain forms of the hepatitis C virus. The choice of medications depends on the type of hepatitis C you have, whether you have been treated for the illness before, how much liver damage has occurred, any other underlying medical issues, and other medicines you take. Treatment for hepatitis C usually involves 8 to 12 weeks of oral antiviral medications, such as:
Who Should Obtain The Hepatitis A Vaccine
Hepatitis A vaccine is recommended for the following persons:
- Travelers to areas with increased rates of hepatitis A
- Men who have sex with men
- Injecting and non-injecting drug users
- Persons with clotting-factor disorders
- Persons with chronic liver disease
- All children aged 12-23 months children not fully vaccinated by age two
The hepatitis A vaccine may also be used in certain outbreak situations where ongoing transmission is occurring. Although studies of certain occupational groups have not shown an increased risk, such people may consider vaccination if they wish to further reduce their risk or are in communities where ongoing outbreaks are occurring.
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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 Can I Prevent The Spread Of Hav
You are most contagious in the 2 weeks before and the first week after you become jaundiced. Your friends, sex partners, and family members may need to get the hepatitis A vaccine. If you already have hepatitis A, it is too late to get the vaccine. The following are important things you can do to keep from spreading the infection:
- Do not share dishes or utensils. Soak dishes and utensils in boiling water. Then wash them, or use a dishwasher. You may want to use disposable dishes.
- Do not prepare food or meals for other people.
- Wash clothing and bedding in the hottest water setting.
- Clean toilets with a product that kills germs.
- Let your healthcare provider know if your work involves preparing or serving food, or close physical contact with other people. If you do this kind of work, the health department will need to evaluate if these people have been exposed to hepatitis A. You cannot return to work until your healthcare provider says it is safe.
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What Can You Do To Prevent Hepatitis A
- Get vaccinated against hepatitis A if your travel plans, job, health, or lifestyle puts you at risk.
- The vaccine is recommended for some children at 6 months of age. The vaccine may be given to children who travel to countries where hepatitis is common. If you or your child haven’t had the vaccine, talk to your doctor before you travel.
- Talk to your doctor if you’ve been around someone who you know has hepatitis A. Getting the hepatitis A vaccine or immunoglobulin within 2 weeks of exposure may prevent you from getting sick.footnote 1
- Practice good hygiene habits.
- Wash your hands well after using the toilet, after changing a diaper, and before you prepare or eat food.
- Wash dishes in hot, soapy water or in a dishwasher.
- Discourage children from putting objects in their mouths.
- Don’t eat or drink anything that you think may have been prepared in unclean conditions.
Why Isn’t Hepatitis A Vaccine Required For Food Service Workers
While food service employers can offer hepatitis A vaccine to their employees if they wish, most public health authorities prefer not to make it mandatory for the following reasons:
- There is no evidence that food service workers are at any greater risk of acquiring hepatitis A than are people in other occupations.
- Only 2-3 percent of all hepatitis A cases are acquired through restaurant food.
- Employee turnover in some segments of the food service industry is high, making it impractical to vaccinate staff.
- Emphasis on careful hand washing, use of disposable gloves and not working when ill are measures that can greatly minimize the risk of spreading hepatitis A and a number of other infections.
- Hepatitis A vaccine would be strongly recommended for food service workers in a county or region where a community-wide outbreak has been recognized.
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When To Get Medical Advice
See your GP for advice if:
- you have symptoms of hepatitis A a blood test can usually confirm whether you have the infection
- you might have been exposed to the hepatitis A virus recently but you do not have any symptoms treatment given early on may be able to stop the infection developing
- you think you might need the hepatitis A vaccine your GP can advise you about whether you should have the vaccine
Although hepatitis A is not usually serious, it’s important to see your GP so they can rule out more serious conditions with similar symptoms, such as hepatitis C or scarring of ther liver .
It may also be necessary to test your friends, family and any sexual partners in case you have spread the infection to them.