Hepatitis A - Health Center

Hepatitis A

By Refadoc, Posted on : Tuesday, 15 September 2015 - 10:46 am IST

Hepatitis A

Hepatitis A: Basic Information

Hepatitis A is a form of highly contagious liver infection which is caused due to the Hepatitis A Virus. This Virus is one of the many kinds of hepatitis viruses which are known to cause inflammation as well as affect the ability of the liver to function and metabolize the food.

Hepatitis A is contracted when a person gets in contact with contaminated food or water from an infected person. Mild cases of Hepatitis A do not require any treatment and tend to recover on their own without any liver damage.

Hepatitis A can be prevented by maintaining a good hygiene, washing one’s hands frequently as well as using vaccines in order to keep oneself at bay from the disease. 

Causes of Hepatitis A Infection:

Hepatitis A Infection is caused due to the Hepatitis A Virus which is spread from one person to the other via contaminated food and drinks. The Hepatitis A Virus infects the liver cells and therefore, causes the organ to become inflamed. This inflammation, if unchecked can lead to the impairing of the liver function and damage.

The Hepatitis Virus can spread via the following ways:

  •       Consuming food which has been handled by someone who has not washed his hands after using the toilet.
  •       Drinking contaminated water
  •       Consuming raw shellfish obtained from water polluted with sewage
  •       Being in close contact with an infected person
  •       Engaging in sexual intercourse with someone who has been infected with the virus.

Signs and Symptoms of Hepatitis A:

The signs and symptoms of the disease do not appear until the virus has lived in the host body for a couple of weeks. The following are the major signs of the infection:

  •       Fatigue
  •       Nausea and vomiting
  •       Pain or discomfort in the lower region of the abdomen
  •       Pale or clay coloured stool
  •       Loss of appetite
  •       Dark urine
  •       Pain in the joints
  •       Yellowing of the skin and the eyes, due to Jaundice
  •       Fever

It is recommended to see a doctor if you exhibit the above mentioned signs and symptoms. Taking a Hepatitis A Vaccine or an immunoglobulin therapy within two weeks of being exposed to the virus can protect you from the infection. It is recommended to seek a vaccine if you have travelled internationally lately, especially to Central or South America. Also, if you have someone close to you suffering from an infection or have had sexual contact with someone infected with the virus, it is recommended to go for a vaccination. 

Tests and Diagnosis of Hepatitis A :

Blood Tests are used extensively in order to detect the presence of the Hepatitis A Virus in the body. The sample of the blood is often taken either from a vein or from the arm and is then sent to the laboratory for testing.

Often, a physical exam is also conducted by the doctor in order to check the liver for any signs of enlargement or tenderness.

The blood Tests often show the raised levels of IgM or IgG antibodies which are related to Hepatitis A. The elevation in the level of liver enzymes, such as the transaminase enzyme levels is also indicative of a Hepatitis A infection.

Treatment and Drugs for Hepatitis A

There is no specific treatment for Hepatitis A. The inbuilt mechanism of the body tackles and removes the virus on it’s own. In most of the cases, the liver heals on its own within six months of the infection without any damage. The treatment option deals on coping with the signs and the symptoms.

  1. Complete Rest: People diagnosed with Hepatitis A infection often feel tired and sick. Therefore, it is recommended to take complete rest during the course of the treatment.
  2. Nausea: Eating can be made difficult due to nausea. Therefore, it is recommended to keep on snacking in between, rather than going for complete meals. High calorie food is recommended in order to gain the required amount of energy.
  3. Resting the Liver: Since liver is the major organ which is affected due to the infection, it may be difficult for the liver to process the medications and the alcohol. It is recommended to avoid drinking alcohol if you have been infected with the virus.
  4. Eating fat rich foods should be avoided as they may cause vomiting.
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