Generally, the symptoms of Hepatitis A, also known as HAV develop after four weeks upon being infected. Not everyone will experience the symptoms, especially children. Look at your GP if you think that you are being infected with Hepatitis A virus. A person affected by Hepatitis A can be fully recovered. In 2014, there were around 3,000 chronic Hepatitis A infections in the United States. Do not be afraid by this statistics as proper medication will heal this disease for sure.
Usually the infected person will experience the symptoms in three stages.
- Feeling tired and sick.
- Pain in the body muscles and joint.
- Mild flu, the temperature will not be more than 102°F.
- Less appetite
- Feeling pain in the upper right side of the tummy.
- Headache, cough
- Itchy rash in the body skin which may last long for a few months.
The symptoms of initial stage will last for a few days to a couple of weeks.
Later Stage Symptoms
Just after the initial stage, the following signs may build up:
- Dark urine
- Jaundice (skin and eyes turn yellow)
- Pale stools
- The upper right side of the tummy becomes swollen.
Generally, in majority of the cases the infected person gets rid of the disease within a few months after the medication as per the advice given by the doctor.
Symptoms of Chronic Stage
Hepatitis A is not a serious disease if it is treated properly. However, it can harm your liver seriously if accurate medication is not taken. If the condition becomes chronic, you may experience the following symptoms.
- Vomiting suddenly
- A propensity to bleed easily such as a continuous bleeding from the nose with no pain.
- Bad temper
- Cannot concentrate in any work.
- Memory problems
- Confusion in matters
When to See a Specialist
Make an appointment with a specialist if you experience any signs or symptoms of Hepatitis A. If you are already infected with Hepatitis A, take a vaccine as per the advice of your doctor to heal the disease easily as well as to protect yourself from the virus in the near future. Inform your doctor about taking Hepatitis A vaccine if:
- You visited a country very recently especially to Central America, Mexico or South America.
- Visited an area where sanitation is very poor.
- Relationship with a person who is infected with Hepatitis A.
- Had a sexual relationship with a person infected with Hepatitis A.
- Recently ate at a restaurant where Hepatitis A was on outbreak.
- Attended child care or work in a child care centre.
- Had sexual relationship with a person of the same gender as yourself.
- You are infected with HIV.
- By using injected or non injected illicit drugs.
- Have a clotting factor disorder such as hemophilia.
Above are the situations in which people are at a higher risk of contracting Hepatitis A. Therefore, it is safe to take a vaccine if you face any of the above mentioned situations.
Get medical advice as soon as possible if you experience the above signs and symptoms. If proper treatment is not taken, you may face chronic Hepatitis A and it may lead towards liver cancer or other liver diseases. Once you get cured of Hepatitis A virus, an antibody is developed which will protect you from the virus for your lifetime.
Spread of Hepatitis A
Hepatitis A is usually found in the stool of a person infected with Hepatitis A. The virus is therefore spread by putting something in the mouth which is contaminated by the stool of a person. This is why Hepatitis A is spread more in places with poor sanitation.
- Eating fruits and vegetables or any other food that was contaminated while handling.
- Swallowing contaminated ice.
- Drinking contaminated water.
- Being in close contact with an infected person, whether or not the person shows signs and symptoms.
- Eating raw shellfish from the water polluted with sewage.
- Having sexual relationship with an infected person.
Complications: Unlike other viral hepatitis, Hepatitis A does not cause chronic damages or long term liver damage. That is, unless you do not take proper care of the virus. But in certain rare cases, the liver might get damaged. This happens in older people or the ones who already had chronic liver disease. Acute liver failure requires hospitalization and in some cases, the damage may be so severe that a liver transplant would be required.
Diagnosis: Blood tests are conducted to diagnose Hepatitis A. Blood samples are collected from the vein of the arm and sent to the laboratory for the testing of Hepatitis A virus.
Treatment: Hepatitis A does not have any specific medication. Most of the time your body will clear Hepatitis A by itself. A liver heals within six months after being infected without any damage being inflicted on it. In this case, the treatment focuses more on reducing the signs and symptoms which in turn heals the person.
Following are the few things one has to do in order to reduce the signs and symptoms:
Rest: Take a lot of rest. An infected person tends to get tired and may feel sick. Hence it is essential to take a lot of rest and avoid indulging in activities that are exhausting.
Rest Your Liver: Your liver gets affected due to the virus. It will have difficulty processing the medication and alcohol. Do not drink alcohol while being infected with Hepatitis. It may damage your liver further.
Cope with Nausea: Nausea makes it difficult to consume food. Try eating small amounts in short regular intervals rather than having full meals. To have sufficient calories, eat more of high calorie foods. For example, opt for fruit juices or milk over water.
Exercise: This is the best way to stay healthy. You may experience pain in the muscles and joints. There are certain exercises and yoga postures which helps to deal with the pain. Consult a doctor for the same.