What is Hepatitis A? | Gastroenterology

Hepatitis A

Overview of hepatitis A 

Hepatitis refers to inflammation of the liver caused by exposure to toxins, alcohol abuse, immune diseases, or infections. The vast majority of hepatitis cases are caused by viruses. Hepatitis A is a type of hepatitis caused by infection with the hepatitis A virus (HAV). It is a type of acute (short-lived) hepatitis that usually does not require treatment.

Hepatitis is a redness or swelling (inflammation) of the liver, which can sometimes cause permanent damage. Hepatitis A is a type of hepatitis. In most cases, hepatitis A is not the cause of a chronic infection. But it takes some time to regain full health. You may be sick for a few weeks, but full recovery can take up to 6 months.

In some cases, hepatitis A can cause severe liver damage. The most contagious form of hepatitis can be transmitted through contaminated food or water. It is generally not serious and generally does not cause long-term effects. A hepatitis infection usually goes away on its own. 

How common is hepatitis A?

In the United States, hepatitis A has become relatively rare. Since the vaccine became available in 1995, the rate of infection has dropped by 95 percent in the United States. Researchers estimate that in 2014, there were approximately 2,500 cases of hepatitis in the United States.

It is more common in developing countries where sanitation is poor and clean water is available. Hepatitis A is more common in Africa, Asia, Central and South America, and Eastern Europe than in the United States.

Symptoms

You can have the first symptoms anytime between 15 and 50 days after coming into contact with the virus. But they usually appear after 2 to 4 weeks.

  • Most people with hepatitis A have a sudden onset
  • Extreme fatigue
  • Lack of appetite
  • Muscle aches and pains
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Low fever

After several days, some symptoms of liver problems appear. Can have:

  • Dark urine
  • Pale-colored bowel movements
  • Yellow skin (jaundice). It is less common in children younger than 6 years old
  • Yellowing of the whites of the eyes
  • Pain in the upper right part of your abdomen
  • Skin itch

If your child has hepatitis A:

  • Cold symptoms
  • Cough
  • Sore throat

If you are over 50 or have chronic liver disease, you may have a severe case of a condition called fulminant hepatitis A infection. It may have similar characteristics:

  • Sudden bleeding or easy injuries
  • Changes in confusion and alertness.
  • Liver malfunction
  • Yellowing of the skin and eyes.

How long does hepatitis last? 

The duration varies from person to person. Symptoms range from mild to severe. Some things to keep in mind:

  • Mild hepatitis A lasts 1 to 2 weeks
  • Most are very good in 3 weeks
  • Young children with symptoms usually recover within 2 months
  • If you have a severe infection, it can cause problems for many months. You need to stay in the hospital
  • Some people have symptoms that last longer than 3 months or have problems that last 3 to 9 months

Causes

People develop hepatitis A infection after being infected with HAV. The virus is usually spread by ingestion of food or liquid contaminated with fecal matter that contains the virus. Once transmitted, the virus spreads through the bloodstream to the liver, where it causes inflammation.

In addition to transmitting HIV-contaminated food or drinking water, the virus can also be transmitted through personal contact with an infected person. A person with HAV infection and hepatitis A can easily spread the disease to other people living in the same household.

You can get hepatitis A from:

  • Eating food prepared by someone with the hepatitis A virus
  • Eating foods administered by manufacturers who do not practice strict hand washing before handling the food you eat
  • Eating raw seafood contaminated with sewage
  • Condoms should not be used during sex with people with the hepatitis A virus
  • Drinking contaminated water
  • Hepatitis A is associated with infected stools

If you are infected with the virus, you will be infected two weeks before symptoms appear. The infection period ends one week after symptoms appear.

Who is at risk for hepatitis A? 

You are at risk for hepatitis A if you go to places where the virus is common. These places include:

  • Africa
  • Asia (except Japan)
  • Mediterranean basin
  • Eastern Europe
  • Middle East
  • Central and South America
  • Mexico
  • Parts of the Caribbean

You may also be at higher risk if:

  • They were in the army
  • Having unprotected sex
  • Using illegal intravenous drugs
  • You have a blood disorder such as hemophilia and blood treatments must be taken
  • Work in a daycare
  • Work in a nursing home, prison, or another type of care facility
  • Laboratory worker administering live hepatitis A virus
  • Handling monkeys or monkeys (primates) with the hepatitis A virus

Hepatitis A is sometimes called a traveler’s disease. It is a very common disease among travelers. But if you are a US citizen. You can become infected with hepatitis A. In some cases, US People have acquired the virus without any risk factors.

Treatment

There is no official treatment for this disease. Because it is a short-term viral infection, it goes away on its own, and treatment is usually focused on reducing your symptoms.

Talk to your doctor before taking any prescription or over-the-counter medications, vitamins, or other foods or supplements or alternative medications, any of which can harm your liver. You should stay away from alcohol until your doctor tells you that you have fully recovered from hepatitis.

After a few weeks off, the symptoms usually start to improve. To reduce your symptoms, you must:

  • Avoid alcohol
  • Eat a healthy diet
  • Drink plenty of water 

Prevention

To stop the spread of hepatitis A, it is important to have good personal hygiene habits and avoid dangerous behaviors. Wash your hands often after using the bathroom, after changing a diaper, or before preparing food.

Also, there are 2 vaccines:

Immunoglobulin injection: This injection is a mixture of antibodies or cells that fight infection. You can receive a vaccine before being exposed to a virus, such as before traveling. You can also get a vaccine as soon as you are infected with the virus.

Hepatitis A vaccine: The entire vaccine is made from the killed hepatitis A virus. You do not have a live virus, so you cannot get hepatitis. The vaccine helps your body’s natural infection-fighting system (immune system) work. After you give the injection, your body makes antibodies that protect you from the virus.

Recommended for anyone looking for a vaccine against hepatitis A. Vaccination is very important for people at risk of infection:

  • All children are 1 year old
  • People who use illicit drugs
  • Whose jobs make them sick
  • People with chronic liver disease
  • Those with bleeding disorders such as hemophilia

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