Hepatitis A: Definition, Causes, Symptoms, Diagnosis, and Treatment

Hepatitis A

Hepatitis A is a highly contagious liver infection caused by the virus. The virus is one of several types of hepatitis viruses that cause liver inflammation and affect your liver’s ability to function. You’re most likely to get hepatitis A from contaminated food or water or from close contact with a person or object that’s infected. Mild cases of hepatitis A don’t require treatment. Most people who are infected recover completely with no permanent liver damage. For more research you can also visit World Health Organization.

What is Hepatitis A?

Hepatitis A is a viral infection that inflames the liver. It’s very contagious and spreads through contaminated food or water. Hepatitis refers to liver inflammation caused by toxins, alcohol, immune diseases, or infections. Viruses including hepatitis A, cause most cases of hepatitis. Hepatitis A is caused by the hepatitis A virus (HAV). It’s an acute short term form of hepatitis that typically doesn’t need treatment. Around 1.5 million cases of hepatitis A occur worldwide each year with increasing rates in the United States. This type of hepatitis spreads mainly through contaminated food or water. It’s usually not severe and often clears up on its own.

What are the Symptoms of Hepatitis A?

Its symptoms typically appear a few weeks after you’ve had the virus. But not everyone with it develops symptoms. If you do, symptoms can include:

  • Unusual tiredness and weakness
  • Sudden nausea and vomiting and diarrhea
  • Abdominal pain or discomfort, especially on the upper right side beneath your low ribs, which is over your liver
  • Clay- or gray- colored stool
  • Loss of appetite
  • Dark urine
  • Joint pain
  • Fever
  • Diarrhea
  • Fatigue
  • Yellowing of the skin and the whites or your eyes
  • Intense itching

Because these symptoms may be relatively mild and go away in a few weeks. Sometimes, however, It results in a severe illness that lasts several months.

What are the Causes of Hepatitis A?

It is caused by a virus that infects liver cells and causes inflammation. The inflammation can affect how your liver works and cause other symptoms of hepatitis A. The virus spreads when infected stool, even just tiny amounts, enters the mouth of another person (fecal- oral transmission). You may get, when you eat or drink something contaminated with infected stool. You may also get the infection through close contact with a person who has it.  The virus can live on surfaces for a few months. The virus does not spread through casual contact or by sneezing or coughing. Here are some of the specific ways the hepatitis A virus can spread:

  • Eating food handled by someone with the virus who doesn’t thoroughly wash hands after using the toilet
  • Drinking contaminated water
  • Eating food washed in contaminated water
  • Eating raw shellfish from water polluted with sewage
  • Being in close contact with a person who has the virus-even if that person has no symptoms
  • Having sexual contact with someone who has the virus

If you get the virus, you can spread it to others even before you show any symptoms. This contagious period starts about 2 weeks before symptoms appear and lasts until about 1 week after symptoms start.

What are the Risk Factors of Hepatitis A?

You’re at increased risk of the virus if you:

  • Travel or work in areas of the world where hepatitis A is common
  • Live with another person who has a hepatitis A
  • Are a man who has sexual contact with other men
  • Have any type of sexual contact with someone who has hepatitis A
  • Are HIV positive
  • Are homeless
  • Use any type or recreational drugs, not just those that are injected

What is the Diagnosis of Hepatitis A?

Blood tests are used to look for signs of the virus in your body. A sample of blood is taken usually from a vein in your arm. It’s sent to a laboratory for testing. Specific diagnosis is made by the detection of HAV-specific immunoglobulin G (igM) antibodies in the blood. Additional tests include reverse transcriptase polymerase chain reaction, (RT-PCR) to detect the virus RNA and may require specialized laboratory facilities. You may or may not have evident physical signs of it such as:

  • Jaundice
  • Enlarged liver
  • Enlarged spleen

But they won’t know for sure or what type of virus it is until they do a blood test. Because they’ll draw a small sample or your blood ant test for specific substances. Liver function tests will show elevated liver enzymes and other factors that indicate liver disease. A hepatitis panel will test your blood for specific antibodies. The antibodies they find will tell them which virus you have.

What are the Treatments of Hepatitis A?

No specific treatments exist for it. So your body will clear the virus on its own. In most cases of hepatitis A, the liver heals within six months with no lasting damage. Its treatment usually focuses on keeping comfortable and controlling symptoms. You may need to:

  • Rest
  • Maintain a balanced diet
  • Drink plenty of water
  • Get adequate food and liquid
  • Avoid alcohol
  • Use medications with care

In 1991 “interferon alpha” was the 1st drug approved for it and given as a series of injections over 1 year. In 1998, lamivudine was approved as the first oral antiviral drug taken once a day.

What are the Complications of Hepatitis A?

Unlike other types of viral hepatitis, hepatitis A does not cause long- term liver damage, and it doesn’t become an ongoing (chronic) infection. In rare cases, hepatitis A can cause a sudden (acute) loss of liver function, especially in older adults or people with chronic liver diseases. Acute liver failure requires a stay in the hospital for monitoring and treatment. Some people with acute liver failure may need a liver transplant.

What are the Preventions of Hepatitis A?

The hepatitis A vaccine can prevent infection with the virus. The vaccine is typically given in two shots. The first shot is followed by a booster shot six months later. The hepatitis A vaccine can be given in a combination that includes the hepatitis B vaccine. This vaccine combination is given in three shots over six months. The center for disease control and prevention recommends the hepatitis A vaccine for the following people:

  • All children at age 1 year, or older children who didn’t receive the childhood vaccine
  • Anyone age 1 year or older who is homeless
  • Infants age 6 to 11 months traveling to parts of the world where hepatitis A is common
  • Family and caregivers of adoptees from countries where hepatitis A is common
  • People in direct contact with others who have it
  • Laboratory workers who may come into contact with it
  • Men who have sex with men
  • People who work or travel in parts of the world where it is common
  • People who use any type of recreational drugs, not just injected ones
  • People with chronic liver disease, including hepatitis B or hepatitis C
  • Anyone wishing to obtain protection (immunity)
  • If you’re concerned about your risk of it, ask your healthcare provider if you should be vaccinated.

Follow Safety Precautions When Traveling:

So if you’re traveling to parts of the world where it outbreak occur, take these steps to prevent infection:

  • Wash all fresh fruits and vegetable in bottled water and peel them yourself, avoid pre-cut the fruits and vegetables
  • Don’t eat raw or undercooked meat and fish
  • Drink bottled water and use it when brushing your teeth
  • Avoid all beverages of unknown purity. The same goes of ice
  • If bottled water isn’t available, boil tap water before drinking it or using it to make ice.

What is Yellow Fever?

Yellow fever is a severe, potentially fatal illness similar to the flu. It’s spread by Aedes aegypti mosquitoes which also transmit dengue and Zika viruses. The main symptoms include high fever and jaundice, which is yellowing of the skin and eyes. It’s most common in certain areas of Africa and South America. While there’s no cure, you can prevent it by getting the yellow fever vaccine.

What are the Symptoms of Yellow Fever?

Yellow fever develops rapidly, with symptoms appearing 3 to 6 days after exposure. The initial symptoms are similar to those of the flu virus and may include:

  • Headaches
  • Muscle aches
  • Joint aches
  • Chills
  • Fever

Acute Phase:

This phase usually lasts for 3 to 4 days. Common symptoms include:

  • Headaches
  • Muscle aches
  • Joint aches
  • Fever
  • Flushing
  • A loss of appetite
  • Shivers
  • Backaches

After the acute phase passes, symptoms will start to improve. Most people recover from yellow fever at this stage, but some may develop a more severe form of the illness.

Toxic Phase:

The symptoms you had during the acute phase may go away for up to 24 hours. After that they might come back along with new and more severe symptoms. Such as:

  • Decreased urination
  • Abdominal pain
  • Vomiting
  • Heart rhythm problems
  • Seizures
  • Delirium
  • Bleeding from the nose, mouth, and eyes

This phase of the disease is often fatal, but only 15% of people with yellow fever enter this phase.

What are the Causes of Yellow Fever?

The yellow fever virus, also known as flavivirus, causes yellow fever. It spreads when an infected mosquito bites you. Mosquitos get infected by biting a person or monkey carrying the virus. However, the disease cannot spread from one person to another. Mosquitoes breed in tropical rainforests, humid areas, and places with stagnant water. When people who haven’t been vaccinated come into contact with infected mosquitoes, especially in areas where yellow fever vaccination rates are low, it can lead to small scale outbreaks.

Who is at Risk for Yellow Fever?

People who haven’t been vaccinated for yellowing fever and live in areas where infected mosquitoes are common are at high risk. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), about 200,000 people get the infection each year. Most cases occur in 32 countries in Africa, including Rwanda and Sierra Leone, and in 13 countries in Latin America, including:

  • Bolivia
  • Brazil
  • Colombia
  • Ecuador
  • Peru

How is Diagnosis of Yellow Fever?

If you’ve recently traveled and are experiencing flu-like symptoms, it’s important to see your doctor promptly. Your doctor will ask about your symptoms and recent travel history. If yellow fever is suspected they will order a blood test. The blood sample will be analyzed to check for the presence of the virus or antibodies that fight the virus.

What is the Treatment of Yellow Fever?

There is no cure for yellow fever. Treatment focuses on managing symptoms and supporting your immune system in fighting off the infection by:

  • Getting enough fluids, possibly through your veins
  • Getting oxygen
  • Maintaining a healthy blood pressure
  • Getting blood transfusions
  • Having dialysis if you experience kidney failure
  • Getting treatment for other infections that may develop

What is the Prevention of  Yellow Fever?

The only way to stop yellow fever is by getting a shot. This shot has a weak form of the virus to help your body fight it off. The yellow fever shot is good. You need only one shot and it protects you for life. If you’re between 9 months and 59 years old and going to a place where yellow fever is common, like some parts of Africa and South America, it’s best to get the shot. Before traveling abroad, check the CDC website to see if you need any shots. Some people shouldn’t get the shot, like those allergic to eggs, chicken, or gelatin, babies younger than 6 months old, or people with weak immune systems. If you’re over 60 and planning a trip where yellow fever is common, talk to your doctor about getting the shot. If you’re traveling with a baby who is 6 to 8 months old or breastfeeding, discuss getting the shot or consider delaying your trip. The shot is safe but might cause minor side effects like a headache, muscle pain, tiredness or a slight fever. Other ways to avoid yellow fever include using bug spray, wearing clothes that cover your skin, and staying indoors when mosquitoes are most active. Groups of people who shouldn’t get the vaccine include:

  • People who have severe allergies to eggs, chicken proteins, or gelatin
  • Infants younger than 6 months old
  • People who have HIV/AIDS or other conditions that companies the immune system

If you’re over 60 and thinking about going to a place where there might be yellow fever, talk to your doctor about getting vaccinated. If you’re traveling with a baby who is 6 to 8 months old or if you’re breastfeeding, it’s best to delay your trip to places with yellow fever if you can’t talk to your doctor about getting vaccinated. The vaccine is considered extremely safe. This side effects may include:

  • A mild headache
  • Muscle pain
  • Fatigue
  • A low grade fever


Which is the best food for hepatitis patients?

Eat a balanced diet with healthy foods like fresh veggies, fruits, whole grains and lean meats. Include plant-based proteins like tofu and nuts. Try to avoid processed foods and limit sugary drinks and snacks. Also make sure to get regular exercise. 

Are bananas good for the liver?

Bananas are rich in vitamin B6, C, and A. They also contain plenty of resistant starch, which is great for liver health. These nutrients help ensure that the liver functions well.

What is the recovery time for hepatitis A?

The prognosis for its patients is excellent with self-limiting courses and recovery is complete. About 85% of people with it recover within three months and almost all recover within six months. So the disease does not become chronic and there are no long-term health implications.

Can we drink milk with hepatitis A?

There is no reason for people with hepatitis to avoid dairy foods. Milk and milk products are excellent sources of nutrients such as calcium, riboflavin, protein and vitamin B12. Without consuming dairy products, it can be hard to get enough calcium in your diet.

Can we eat rice with hepatitis A?

A person with hepatitis just needs to follow a healthy, well-balanced diet. That diet should include: Plenty of fruits and vegetables. Whole grains such as brown rice, oats, barely, and quinoa.

How to clean your liver?

Best Ways to Detox Your Liver:

  • Consume more water
  • Sweating is the way to go. It is imperative for your body to sweat
  • Say goodbye to toxic foods
  • Raw vegetables juice to the rescue
  • You need to potassium-rich foods
  • Liver support supplements

Related Post:

Hepatitis B: Causes, Symptoms, Diagnosis and Treatment


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