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Hepatitis A

Also called: HAV

Your liver is the largest organ inside your body. It helps your body digest food, store energy, and remove poisons. Hepatitis is an inflammation of the liver. One type, hepatitis A, is caused by the hepatitis A virus (HAV). The disease spreads through contact with an infected person's stool. You can get it from

  • Eating food made by an infected person who did not wash their hands after using the bathroom
  • Drinking untreated water or eating food washed in untreated water
  • Putting into your mouth a finger or object that came into contact with an infected person's stool
  • Having close contact with an infected person, such as through sex or caring for someone who is ill

Most people do not have any symptoms. If you do have symptoms, you may feel as if you have the flu. You may also have yellowish eyes and skin, called jaundice. A blood test will show if you have HAV.

HAV usually gets better in a few weeks without treatment. However, some people can have symptoms for up to 6 months. Your doctor may suggest medicines to help relieve your symptoms.

The hepatitis A vaccine can prevent HAV. Good hygiene can also help. Wash your hands thoroughly before preparing food, after using the toilet, or after changing a diaper. International travelers should be careful about drinking tap water.

NIH: National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases

Symptoms of Hepatitis A

The following features are indicative of Hepatitis A:
  • fatigue
  • nausea
  • vomiting
  • abdominal pain or discomfort
  • clay-colored bowel movements
  • loss of appetite
  • low-grade fever
  • dark urine
  • joint pain
  • yellowing of the skin and eyes
It is possible that Hepatitis A shows no physical symptoms and still be present in a patient.

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Common Causes of Hepatitis A

The following are the most common causes of Hepatitis A:
  • drinking contaminated water
  • eating raw shellfish from water polluted with sewage
  • close contact with infected patient
  • having sex with virus infected patient
  • contaminated food

Risk Factors for Hepatitis A

The following factors may increase the likelihood of Hepatitis A:
  • poor sanitation
  • lack of safe water
  • use of recreational drugs
  • living in a household with an infected patient
  • men who have sex with men
  • patients with clotting disorders
  • travelers to endemic regions

Prevention of Hepatitis A

Yes, it may be possible to prevent Hepatitis A. Prevention may be possible by doing the following:
  • practicing good hygiene
  • washing hands frequently
  • get vaccinated against hepatitis A

Occurrence of Hepatitis A

Number of Cases

The following are the number of Hepatitis A cases seen each year worldwide:
  • Very common > 10 Million cases

Common Age Group

Hepatitis A can occur at any age.

Common Gender

Hepatitis A can occur in any gender.

Lab Tests and Procedures for Diagnosis of Hepatitis A

The following lab tests and procedures are used to detect Hepatitis A:
  • Blood tests: To detect the presence of hepatitis A in the body

Doctor for Diagnosis of Hepatitis A

Patients should visit the following specialists if they have symptoms of Hepatitis A:
  • Gastroenterologist
  • Infectious disease specialist
  • General practitioner

Complications of Hepatitis A if untreated

Yes, Hepatitis A causes complications if it is not treated. Below is the list of complications and problems that may arise if Hepatitis A is left untreated:
  • loss of liver function

Procedures for Treatment of Hepatitis A

The following procedures are used to treat Hepatitis A:
  • Intravenous (IV) hydration: To treat Hepatitis A
  • Supportive therapy: Helps in treating Hepatitis A
  • Liver transplant: Treat hepatitis

Self-care for Hepatitis A

The following self-care actions or lifestyle changes may help in the treatment or management of Hepatitis A:
  • Maintain adequate nutrition: Helps in preventing Hepatitis A
  • Take proper rest: Helps in coping with your signs and symptoms of Hepatitis A
  • Wash hands thoroughly after using the toilet: Lowers the risk of passing hepatitis A to others
  • Avoid alcohol consumption: Helps in preventing hepatitis and cirrhosis

Alternative Medicine for Treatment of Hepatitis A

The following alternate medicine and therapies are known to help in the treatment or management of Hepatitis A:
  • Exercise regularly: Helps in recovering the disease

Patient Support for Treatment of Hepatitis A

The following actions may help Hepatitis A patients:
  • Join support groups: Helps you learn about the latest treatments and coping with the disease

Time for Treatment of Hepatitis A

While time-period of treatment for each patient may vary, below is the typical time-period for Hepatitis A to resolve if treated properly under an expert supervision:
  • In 3 - 6 months

Is Hepatitis A Infectious?

Yes, Hepatitis A is known to be infectious. It can spread across people via the following means:
  • contaminated food and water
  • direct contact with infected patient

Last updated date

This page was last updated on 2/04/2019.
This page provides information for Hepatitis A.
Hepatitis
Hepatitis B
Hepatitis C
Hepatitis Testing

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