Ref: CHB/HB/58/16                                                                                


What is Hepatitis A?
Hepatitis is a general term that means inflammation (irritation and swelling) of the liver. Inflammation of the liver can result from infection, exposure to alcohol, certain medications, chemicals, poisons, or from a disorder of the immune system.
Hepatitis A Causes:
The cause of hepatitis A is hepatitis A virus (HAV) that is transmitted person to person by contaminated foods, water or other drinks (including ice), blood, stool, and direct contact. The virus enters through the epithelium in the mouth and migrates to the liver over a period of about two to six weeks.

Symptoms of hepatitis A usually develop between 2 and 6 weeks after infection.
The most common symptoms are as follows: 

  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea, especially in children
  • Pale or gray-colored stools
  • Low-grade fever
  • Loss of appetite
  • Rash
  • Tiredness, fatigue
  • Jaundice (a yellow discoloration of the skin and the whites of the eyes)
  • Urine is dark brownish in color, like cola or strong tea.
  • Pain in area of liver, on the right side of the abdomen just under the rib cage

There are no specific medicines to cure infection with hepatitis A. Most people require no treatment except to relieve symptoms. However, if symptoms become severe or dehydration develops, the person should seek medical care emergently. 

  • If a person becomes dehydrated, the doctor may prescribe IV fluids. 
  • If a patient is experiencing significant nausea and vomiting, they will receive medicines to control these symptoms. 
  • People whose symptoms are well controlled can be cared for at home. 
  • If dehydration or other symptoms are severe, or if the patient is extremely confused or difficult to arouse, they will most likely be hospitalized.

Self-care at Home:
The following measures can help a patient feel better while they are having symptoms: 

  • Take it easy; curtail normal activities and spend time resting at home.
  • Drink plenty of clear fluids to prevent dehydration.
  • Avoid medicines and substances that can cause harm to the liver.
  • Avoid alcoholic beverages, as these can worsen the effects of HAV on the liver.
  • Avoid prolonged, vigorous exercise until symptoms start to improve.

If a person has hepatitis A, strict personal hygiene and hand washing help prevent transmission of HAV to others. There are ways to help reduce or prevent HAV infection. 

  • Wash hands thoroughly every time after use of the bathroom, before touching or preparing food, and before touching others. Wash hands with soap and warm water, and then dry the hands thoroughly (with paper or air so the drying towel is not reused by anyone).
  •  Contaminated surfaces should be cleaned with household bleach to kill the virus. 
  • Heat food or water to 185 F or 85 C to kill the hepatitis A virus.

If people are not infected with HAV, they can reduce the chance of becoming infected by the following methods:

  • Wash hands carefully with soap and warm water several times a day, including every time the bathroom is used, every time a diaper is changed, and before preparing food. 
  • Do not eat raw or undercooked seafood or shellfish such as oysters from areas of questionable sanitation (just about everywhere, including developed countries). 
  • Individuals traveling to developing countries should not drink untreated water or beverages with ice in them. Fruits and vegetables should not be eaten unless cooked or peeled.

Please seek the advice of a medical doctor or a physician immediately should any of the above symptoms are observed or suspected.


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