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 Can You Prevent Hepatitis A
There is a vaccine, made from an inactivateddeadvirus to prevent hepatitis A. If you are not sure you have had the vaccine, you can ask your doctor to test you to see if you have been vaccinated.
You can also practice good hand washing hygiene. Make sure you use soap and warm water to wash your hands for at least 15 to 30 seconds after you use the toilet, change diapers, and before and after touching food.
If you are traveling in another country, especially a developing country, drink only bottled water and use only bottled water to brush your teeth, wash your produce, and freeze for ice cubes.
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.
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What You Need To Know
Hepatitis A is a liver disease caused by the hepatitis A virus. Hepatitis A virus is transmitted through the fecal-oral route. If a person with hepatitis A does not wash their hands well after going to the bathroom they can contaminate objects, food, or drinks. Someone else can be infected when they put these items into their mouth.
Vaccination is a safe and effective way to prevent hepatitis A.
In addition to vaccination, consistent, thorough hand washing after going to the bathroom and before preparing or eating food is the most effective way to prevent getting hepatitis A.
Take Care When Eating And Drinking
You should avoid eating and drinking the following when travelling to high-risk countries:
- Raw or inadequately cooked shellfish.
- Raw salads and vegetables that may have been washed in dirty water.
- Other foods that may have been grown close to the ground such as strawberries.
- Untreated drinking water, including ice cubes made from untreated water.
- Unpasteurised milk, cheese, ice cream and other dairy products.
Also be careful when buying food from street traders. Make sure that food has been recently prepared and that it is served hot and on clean serving plates. Food that has been left out at room temperature or food that may have been exposed to flies could also pose a risk.
Note: if you have had hepatitis A infection, you will be immune to further infection. This means that you can’t catch the infection again.
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What If I Have Symptoms Of Viral Hepatitis
If you have symptoms or signs of viral hepatitis, your health care provider can perform a blood test to check for the presence of an antibody. If you have hepatitis B or C, more blood samples may be necessary later — even if the symptoms have vanished — to check for complications and determine if you have progressed from acute to chronic disease. Most people have vague or no symptoms at all hence, viral hepatitis is often referred to as a silent disease.
Your healthcare provider may also require a liverbiopsy, or tissue sample, in order to determine the extent of the damage. A biopsy is commonly performed by inserting a needle into the liver and drawing out a fragment of tissue, which is then sent to a lab to be analyzed.
Concerns About Immunisation Side Effects
If a side effect following immunisation is unexpected, persistent or severe, or if you are worried about yourself or your childs condition after a vaccination, see your doctor or immunisation nurse as soon as possible or go directly to a hospital.
It is important to seek medical advice if you are unwell, as this may be due to other illness rather than because of the vaccination.
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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.
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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How Do I Get Hepatitis A
Hepatitis A is spread through close contact with an infected person, or by eating hepatitis A contaminated food or drinking water. Because the virus is found in the stool of infected people, eating food prepared by an infected person, who does not wash his/her hands properly after using the washroom, is one way of getting the virus.
Eating raw or undercooked seafood and shellfish from water polluted with sewage, or eating salad greens that are rinsed in contaminated water are other ways of becoming infected. Sharing drug-use equipment, or having sexual contact with an infected person can also give you hepatitis A.
While often considered to be a travellers disease, hepatitis A can be contracted in Canada. Hepatitis A outbreaks or scares in Canada are most often associated with infected food handlers in restaurants and grocery stores or with contaminated produce.
Who Should Be Vaccinated
- All children aged 1223 months
- All children and adolescents 218 years of age who have not previously received hepatitis A vaccine
People at increased risk for hepatitis A
- International travelers
- Men who have sex with men
- People who use or inject drugs
- People with occupational risk for exposure
- People who anticipate close personal contact with an international adoptee
- People experiencing homelessness
People at increased risk for severe disease from hepatitis A infection
- People with chronic liver disease, including hepatitis B and hepatitis C
- People with HIV
Other people recommended for vaccination
- Pregnant women at risk for hepatitis A or risk for severe outcome from hepatitis A infection
Any person who requests vaccination
There is no vaccine available for hepatitis C.
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How Do You Get Exposed To Hepatitis A
The hepatitis A virus is found in the stool and blood of people infected with the disease, and it can spread when someone ingests particles of the virus, the CDC says.
In general, that can happen through person-to-person contact such as:
Some types of sexual contact
Caring for a person infected with hepatitis A
Using illegal drugs with people infected with hepatitis A
Additionally, infection can spread by eating contaminated food or drinking contaminated fluids such as when someone who has the virus handles food after using the bathroom and not washing their hands, or eating raw shellfish that has been in water polluted by sewage, the Mayo Clinic says.
Vaccination against hepatitis A can prevent infection, and if you have already had hepatitis A and recovered, you have a lifelong immunity against it, the WHO says. But you can help prevent spreading the virus with good hand hygiene practices, such as washing your hands after using the bathroom or changing diapers, and before eating or preparing food.
What Can I Do To Manage Hepatitis A
- Eat a variety of healthy foods. Healthy foods include fruits, vegetables, whole-grain breads, low-fat dairy products, and lean meats and fish. Your healthcare provider or dietitian may recommend that you limit protein foods such as milk, fish, meat, and fatty foods. Protein and fat make your liver work harder. As you feel better, you can add other kinds of foods.
- Do not drink alcohol. Alcohol can increase liver damage. Talk to your healthcare provider if you drink alcohol and need help to stop.
- Drink more liquids. Liquids help your liver function properly. Ask your healthcare provider how much liquid to drink each day and which liquids are best for you.
- Get more rest. Rest if you are tired. Slowly return to your normal activities when you feel better.
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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.
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.
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How Can I Avoid Getting Hepatitis A
There is a safe and effective vaccine that can protect you from getting hepatitis A. The vaccine is usually given in two doses six months apart. The vaccine will give you protection for up to 20 years. A combined vaccine for hepatitis A and hepatitis B is also available. Since up to 40% of the reported cases of hepatitis A occur in travellers, it is advisable to protect yourself with a hepatitis A vaccination six weeks before you leave.
Consider these additional safety precautions:
- Wash your hands frequently and thoroughly especially after using the washroom, before preparing food and before eating.
- Avoid raw or undercooked food.
- If you are travelling to countries with high rates of hepatitis A:
- Drink bottled or boiled water and use it for brushing your teeth.
- Drink bottled beverages without ice.
- Avoid uncooked food including salads.
- Avoid food from street vendors.
- Peel and wash fresh fruits and vegetables yourself.
How Do I Know If I Have Hepatitis
Viral hepatitis, such as hepatitis A , hepatitis B and hepatitis C , is diagnosed by your symptoms, a physical exam and blood tests. Sometimes imaging studies such as a sonogram or CAT scan and a liver biopsy are also used.
What are the types of Hepatitis?
There are several types of hepatitis, but the three most common in the U.S. are:
- Hepatitis A â It is considered highly contagious but is not a long-term infection and usually has no complications. Your liver usually heals within two months. Preventable with a vaccination, it can be spread by eating or drinking something that has been contaminated with the stool of a person who has the virus.
- Hepatitis B â While it can lead to long-term liver damage, most children and adults recover within 6 months. You can spread the virus even though you show no symptoms. Pregnant women who are infected by the virus can pass it along to their newborn. Also, preventable through vaccine, hepatitis B is spread by:
- Having sex with someone who’s infected
- Sharing dirty needles
- Having direct contact with infected blood or the body fluids of someone who’s got the disease
Who’s at Risk for Hepatitis Infection?
You are at increases risk hepatis A if you meet one or more of these criteria:
- Children born to mothers who have HBV
- People with certain high liver function blood tests
- Feeling sick to the stomach
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What Are The Signs And Symptoms Of Hepatitis A
You may have no symptoms. Symptoms usually begin between 28 to 30 days after exposure to HAV, but it may be up to 50 days. You may have the following signs and symptoms:
- Low fever, usually under 100.4°F
- Dark urine or pale bowel movements
- Nausea, vomiting, or loss of appetite
- Pain in the right upper side of your abdomen
- Jaundice and itchy skin
Managing Injection Site Discomfort
Many vaccine injections may result in soreness, redness, itching, swelling or burning at the injection site for one to 2 days. Paracetamol might be required to ease the discomfort. Sometimes a small, hard lump at the injection site may persist for some weeks or months. This should not be of concern and requires no treatment.
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How Long Is The Infectious Period
You are infectious for 2 weeks before you show any symptoms and for 1 week after you develop jaundice .
To reduce the risk of other people becoming infected, stay home and don’t prepare food for other people for 7 days from the onset of jaundice. After you have recovered from hepatitis A, you are immune and cannot get it again.
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
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Common Symptoms Of Hepatitis
If you are living with a chronic form of hepatitis, like hepatitis B and C, you may not show symptoms until the damage affects liver function. By contrast, people with acute hepatitis may present with symptoms shortly after contracting a hepatitis virus.
Common symptoms of infectious hepatitis include:
It is crucial to understand what is causing hepatitis in order to treat it correctly. Doctors will progress through a series of tests to accurately diagnose your condition.
Pregnancy And Hepatitis A Immunisation
Hepatitis A immunisation is not usually recommended for women who are pregnant although vaccination might be recommended in some situations.
Speak with your doctor if you are not immune to hepatitis A and you are at increased risk of infection or if you have a pre-existing medical condition such as liver disease.
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