Things to know
- Hepatitis A is a common liver infection with mild to moderate symptoms. Hepatitis A symptoms differ in every one. Sometimes, people experience no symptoms at all.
- Hepatitis A is very contagious and usually spreads through the consumption of contaminated food and water, poor hygiene, close contact with an infected person and unprotected sex.
- Hepatitis A does not become severe and usually goes away on its own without any medical intervention. Once infected, you attain a life-long immunity to hepatitis A.
- Hepatitis A vaccine is available in India. You should ask your healthcare provider about your personal vaccination schedule.
About Hepatitis A
Hepatitis A is a common liver infection caused by the virus – hepatitis A. It is a highly contagious infection that usually spreads through contaminated food and water and close contact with an infected person.
Hepatitis A, like any other liver infection, causes liver inflammation affecting its ability to function normally and efficiently. This infection affects everyone differently and can cause mild to severe symptoms. Hepatitis A is not considered a highly dangerous infection. Usually, it goes away in a few weeks.
Hepatitis A symptoms
Hepatitis A symptoms appear in everyone differently and not all symptoms are present in everyone. They usually present after a few days of coming in contact with the virus (usually 14-28 days). Sometimes, hepatitis A symptoms go away on their own within a few weeks while in others, signs can be severe. In some people, hepatitis A symptoms do not appear at all.
Some common hepatitis A symptoms include:
- Sudden onset of nausea and vomiting
- Pain and discomfort in the abdomen, especially on the upper right side beneath the liver
- Clay-coloured bowel movements
- Sudden loss of appetite
- Low-grade or mild fever
- Dark-coloured urine
- Pain and inflammation in the joints
- Itching in the intense
Hepatitis A causes
The primary cause of this infection is the hepatitis A virus. Hepatitis A mainly spreads through the following ways:
- Contaminated food and water
- Coming in close contact with someone who is infected with the virus
- Eating raw shellfish from contaminated water
- Unprotected sexual intercourse with someone who is infected
While hepatitis A can affect anyone, some individuals are at a higher risk than others. Common risk factors of hepatitis A include:
- Travelling in areas where hepatitis A is very common and prevalent
- Being HIV positive
- Having a clotting-factors disorder
Hepatitis A diagnosis and treatment
Hepatitis A is diagnosed when a person presents with the above-given symptoms. Hepatitis diagnosis is done with the help of a blood test. A sample of your blood is drawn to look for the signs of virus.
Hepatitis A treatment is dependent on your signs and symptoms. Usually, this virus does not require a treatment protocol as the liver heals itself within a few weeks. Your healthcare provider will aim to alleviate your symptoms and help you restore your wellbeing.
Common hepatitis A treatment measures include:
Rest – Hepatitis A can cause extreme fatigue in your body. You will require extra care and rest to recover fully.
Symptom management – Some hepatitis A symptoms such as diarrhoea, nausea and vomiting can be treated with medication. Your healthcare provider will help you plan a diet chart to help you eat properly. Since you are nauseous, you may be asked to eat small and frequent meals or snacks. Additionally, your doctor will ask you to drink plenty of fluids to help you stay hydrated.
Practising hygiene and good health – When you are infected with hepatitis A, you will be required to practice good hygiene to avoid the spread of the virus (as it has a highly contagious nature). Your doctor will also ask you to avoid the consumption of alcohol and other substances.
Hepatitis A complications
Hepatitis A is very contagious, meaning it can spread significantly and rapidly from one person to another. Despite its high transmission rate, hepatitis A does not have severe complications. It does not escalate in terms of severity and cause liver damage. Hepatitis A also does not have long-term effects.
However, in rare cases, hepatitis A complications in older adults include sudden loss of liver function. You may, in these cases, require hospitalisation to support your recovery.
Hepatitis A prevention
Hepatitis A is a vaccine-preventable virus. It is recommended that all individuals seek hepatitis A vaccine when suggested by their healthcare provider. It is considered a priority in the National Immunisation schedule in India.
Besides the vaccine, hepatitis A prevention can be done through the following measures:
- Practising good hygiene
- Washing raw fruits and vegetables properly before consumption
- Avoiding the intake of contaminated food and drinks
- Boiling water before consumption
- Avoiding the consumption of raw seafood
- Practising safe and protected sexual activity
- Washing your hands before and after eating
- Washing your hands thoroughly after using the toilet
- Managing your symptoms and avoiding close contact with others when infected
What to expect
Hepatitis A symptoms affect everyone differently. Sometimes the detection and diagnosis of hepatitis A are delayed due to a lack of awareness and timely intervention. You should make a note of your symptoms and recent medications to help your doctor understand your condition better.
During your appointment, you can expect your healthcare provider to ask similar questions as given below:
- When did your symptoms begin?
- Have you recently travelled out of state or country?
- Have you come in contact with someone infected with hepatitis A?
- How are your symptoms affecting your everyday life?
- Does anything seem to improve or worsen your symptoms?
- Have there been any major changes or stressors in your life affecting your health?
Yes, you can effectively and fully recover from hepatitis A with life-long immunity.
Hepatitis A sometimes causes no or mild symptoms. It is, thus, possible to not identify the presence of this infection. Most of the time, hepatitis A symptoms show up after about 14-28 days of being infected.
If you are tested positive for hepatitis A, your doctor will offer to alleviate your symptoms. Your recovery will take a few weeks and you will gain long-term immunity to the hepatitis A virus.
No, hepatitis A does not cause weight gain.