Hepatitis A is a liver infection that is caused by the hepatitis A virus. The condition can be prevented with the use of a vaccine. Infected patients’ feces and blood are found to be positive for HAV. Hep A is a liver illness that is very contagious. People contract the virus when they unknowingly eat it even at trace levels, through close contact with an infected person or by having contaminated drinks. Hep A symptoms may include fatigue, nausea, stomach discomfort, and jaundice, which can linger for up to two months following infection. It is not usually linked to long-term health problems. Vaccination against Hep A is the most effective way to avoid the disease.
Consuming or drinking foodstuff or water contaminated with feces from individuals having hepatitis A is the most prevalent way to develop an infection with the virus. The virus enters the bloodstream and travels to the liver, causing inflammation and edema, among other problems.
Aside from direct contact with an infected person, consuming HAV-infected food, or drinking HAV-infected water, the virus can also be spread through close personal contact with that person. Hepatitis A is extremely contagious, and an infected person can readily infect others in the same home.
It can be spread through any of the following methods:
- Ingesting food prepared by someone who has been infected with Hep A
- Consuming sewage-contaminated food
- Drinking contaminated water
- Coming into contact with Hep A contaminated feces
You will be contagious for two weeks before any symptoms develop if you get the virus. The contagious period lasts approximately one week after the onset of symptoms.
Certain factors can increase Hep A transmission:
- Living in, for an extended period of time, an area where hepatitis A is prevalent, such as most developing countries with poor sanitation or a lack of safe drinking water
- Injecting or using illegal substances
- Living in the same home as someone who has hepatitis A, being HIV-positive, and having sexual interaction with someone who has hepatitis A
Hepatitis A symptoms and signs do not normally occur until some weeks after you have been infected, at which point they become more severe. Hep A patients, on the other hand, do not always get them. If you have hepatitis, you may notice some of the following signs and symptoms:
- Vomiting and nausea
- Pain in the abdomen, especially on the upper right side beneath the lower ribs
- Bowel movements that are clay-colored
- Suppression of appetite
- Discomfort in the joints
These symptoms are most likely minimal and will go away in a few weeks. Hepatitis Infections, on the other hand, can result in a serious condition that lasts months.
In some persons, there are only a few symptoms and no evidence of jaundice. When there are no evident indicators of jaundice, a physical examination might be difficult to undertake, making it difficult to detect any form of hepatitis. It is possible that hepatitis A infection will go undiscovered if the symptoms are modest. Complications as a result of a missed diagnosis are extremely rare.
Your doctor will first physically examine you about your symptoms before performing a blood test to see if you have abnormal levels of liver enzymes.
Clinical features alone cannot usually distinguish hepatitis A from other kinds of acute viral hepatitis. In the blood, immunoglobulin G and M antibodies allow for an accurate diagnosis. Moreover, additional tests, like the “reverse transcriptase-polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR)” to detect hepatitis A virus RNA, may necessitate the utilization of the specialized laboratory facility. Additional blood tests will be performed to confirm the diagnosis.
- Immunoglobulin M (IgM): Your body creates these antibodies when you initially contract hepatitis A. The last three to six months in your bloodstream.
- Immunoglobulin G (IgG): After the virus has been present in your body for a period of time, these antibodies will produce. You might end up with them for the rest of your life. Hepatitis A protection is provided by them. If you have IgG antibodies but not IgM antibodies, it means you have had hepatitis A before or have had immunizations to prevent you from it.
Once you have got the hepatitis A virus, there is no medication that can cure it. Your doctor will treat your symptoms as part of supportive care until they go away, which could take many weeks. Tests to establish how well your liver is functioning are also included, so you may rest assured that your body is recuperating properly.
By following the steps outlined below, you can make yourself more comfortable:
- Rest: You probably feel weary, queasy, and have less energy than normal. Having rest is important in this condition.
- Snacking: It may be difficult to eat because of nausea associated with Hepatitis A. It may be more convenient to snack throughout the day rather than have a complete meal at a specific time. To guarantee that you are getting adequate nutrients in your diet, choose high-calorie items and drink fruit juice or milk instead.
- Hydration: If you are vomiting up, stay hydrated by drinking plenty of water.
Alcoholic beverages should be avoided at all costs. Your liver has a more difficult time processing drugs and alcohol when you are infected with the virus. Additionally, drinking might exacerbate the symptoms of liver disease.
When To See A Doctor
If you are experiencing any of the signs or symptoms of hepatitis A, schedule an appointment with your doctor. A Hepatitis A vaccine or an injection of immunoglobulin (an antibody) given within two weeks of being exposed to the virus may help protect you from becoming infected with the virus and developing hepatitis A. People who are elderly or who have the chronic liver disease may experience an abrupt loss of liver function if they contract Hepatitis A. This is a rare complication of the infection. When any sign or symptom appears, it is critical to consult with a medical professional immediately.