Hepatitis A

Hepatitis A is a liver infection caused by the hepatitis A virus (HAV). HAV is highly contagious and is spread through ingesting stool infected food or drink, eating raw shellfish from polluted water, having sex with an infected induvial, or being in close contact with a infect induvial. Unlike other hepatitis viruses, HAV can only be acute and does not cause long-term liver damage. Hepatitis A causes inflammation of the liver cells and may affect how your liver works, causes symptoms. Symptoms may vary from non-existent to severe, however most are mild and only last a few weeks. In rare cases, usually in older adults, Hepatitis A can cause sudden liver failure.

Those who:

  • travel or work in areas of the world where hepatitis A is common
  • attend or work in child care centers
  • living with a person who has hepatitis A
  • are a man who has sex with other men
  • have sexual contact with someone who has hepatitis A
  • are HIV positive
  • have hemophilia
  • use illegal drugs

are at an increased risk of becoming infected with HAV. To prevent infection there is a vaccine that is typically administered in two shots. A primary shot and a booster shot that is administered six months later. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends anyone with increased risk receive the vaccine, though there is no reason to not get the vaccine.

Symptoms of hepatitis A are usually mild, appear several weeks after infection, and usually last only a few weeks. The symptoms my include:

  • fatigue
  • nausea
  • vomiting
  • abdominal pain, specially by your liver (upper right side beneath the lower ribs)
  • clay-colored bowel movements
  • loss of appetite
  • low-grade fever
  • dark urine
  • joint pain
  • jaundice (yellowing of skin and eyes)
  • intense itching

Once symptoms appear or there is a possibility of infection talk to a doctor. Getting a hepatitis A vaccine or an immunoglobulin (antibody) shot within two weeks of exposure my protect from infection.

Sources

CDC. (2020, June 22). Hepatitis a – FAQs, STATISTICS, data, & guidelines. Retrieved March 22, 2021, from https://www.cdc.gov/hepatitis/hav/index.htm

MFMER. (2020, August 28). Hepatitis a. Retrieved March 22, 2021, from https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/hepatitis-a/symptoms-causes/syc-20367007

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