Hepatitis A virus infects your liver causing hepatitis, which means liver inflammation. In comparison to other viruses that cause viral hepatitis, hepatitis A is mild and doesn’t develop into chronic liver inflammation that causes permanent liver damage, like cirrhosis.
Hepatitis A virus is highly contagious and is often spread in advance of any noticeable symptoms, which is about the first 2 weeks following your initial infection. However, if you have a weak immune system, then you may be capable of spreading this infectious disease for significantly longer.
Hepatitis A is spread through ingestion of infected feces and some ways for which this virus accomplishes an entry is:
- sexual contact
- diaper changing
- blood transfusion
- contaminated food
- drinking contaminated water
- close contact with an infected person
- eating raw seafood from sewage polluted waters
The symptoms of hepatitis A mostly stems from liver function impairment caused by liver inflammation, so it may take a month or so before any symptoms appear. Yet, once your symptoms do manifest they can cause:
- low fever
- itchy skin
- dark urine
- appetite loss
- nausea, vomiting
- clay colored feces
- upper right side abdominal pain
Your symptoms of hepatitis A will typically last a month or two, but up to six months is a possibility. And not everyone with hepatitis A develops prominent symptoms, particularly children who more likely to just have a mild case.
Hepatitis A treatment involves supportive care since there’s no drug available that treats nor cures this cause for liver inflammation. So if you do have this virus infection, then treatment entails:
- getting plenty of rest
- eating a balanced diet
- no alcohol or acetaminophen
- eat small meals consisting of soft, easily digestible foods
Because your liver may have difficulty with some drugs, you should review your prescribed and OTC drugs you regularly take with your health care provider to assess if a temporary change needs to made.
Two primary prevention methods for hepatitis A virus is vaccination or a shot of immune globulin. And the vaccine can prevent this cause of hepatitis even after exposure, but before your liver inflammation symptoms.