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Please also talk about Hepatitis A

Please also talk about Hepatitis A

Last week you discussed Hepatitis C. Please discuss about Hepatitis A this week so that we can know more about it.

Catherine X

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Thanks Catherine for your question. Hepatitis A is also a contagious liver infection caused by the hepatitis A virus. The virus is one of several types of hepatitis viruses that cause inflammation and affect the liver’s ability to function.

One is likely to get hepatitis A from contaminated food or water or from close contact with a person or object that’s infected. Most people who are infected however recover completely with no permanent liver damage.

What are the symptoms?

  • Fatigue and sudden nausea and vomiting.
  • Abdominal pain or discomfort, especially on the upper right side beneath your lower ribs (by your liver).
  • Clay-colored bowel movements.
  • Loss of appetite and low-grade fever.
  • Dark urine and joint pain.
  • Yellowing of the skin and the whites of your eyes (jaundice).
  • Intense itching

These symptoms may be relatively mild and go away in a few weeks. Sometimes, however, hepatitis A infection results in a severe illness that lasts several months.

What are the causes?

  • Hepatitis A is caused by a virus that infects liver cells and causes inflammation. The inflammation can affect how your liver works and cause other signs and symptoms of hepatitis A.
  • The virus most commonly spreads when one eats or drinks something contaminated with faecal matter, even just tiny amounts. It does not spread through sneezing or coughing.

Here are some of the specific ways the hepatitis A virus can spread:

  • Eating food handled by someone with the virus who doesn’t thoroughly wash his or her hands after using the toilet.
  • Drinking contaminated water.
  • Eating raw shellfish from water polluted with sewage.
  • Being in close contact with a person who’s infected — even if that person has no signs or symptoms.

What are the complications?

  • Unlike other types of viral hepatitis, hepatitis A does not cause long-term liver damage, and it doesn’t become chronic.
  • In rare cases, hepatitis A can cause a sudden loss of liver function, especially in older adults or people with chronic liver diseases. Acute liver failure requires a stay in the hospital for monitoring and treatment.

What are the preventive measures?

The hepatitis A vaccine can prevent infection with the virus. The vaccine is typically given in two shots. The first one is followed by a booster shot six months later.

If one is traveling to parts of the world where hepatitis A outbreaks occur, take these steps to prevent infection:

  • Peel and wash all fresh fruits and vegetables yourself.
  • Don’t eat raw or undercooked meat and fish.
  • Drink bottled water and use it when brushing your teeth.
  • Avoid all beverages of unknown purity, with or without ice.
  • If bottled water isn’t available, boil tap water before drinking it.
  • Practice good hygiene.
  • Thoroughly wash your hands often, especially after using the toilet or changing a diaper and before preparing food or eating.

Some treatment options

  • No specific treatment exists for hepatitis A. Your body will clear the hepatitis A virus on its own. In most cases of hepatitis A, the liver heals within six months with no lasting damage.
  • Hepatitis A treatment usually focuses on keeping comfortable and controlling signs and symptoms.

 

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