Hepatitis A Treatment
A potentially painful and exhausting disease, Hepatitis A causes temporary swelling of the liver. While the body can fight this disease on its own, proper medical care helps relieve symptoms and speed recovery. As New Jersey’s leading infectious disease specialists, ID Care helps patients with Hepatitis A restore good health and avoid spreading the disease to friends and family.
Causes Of The Hepatitis A Virus
Hepatitis A is one of the three forms of Hepatitis and caused by the Hepatitis A Virus (HAV). It is a highly contagious infection of the liver caused by exposure to an infected individual’s fecal matter. This usually occurs via the fecal-oral route, as the infected person’s fecal matter is present in food or water consumed by another individual. The infected fecal matter is usually introduced due to inadequate handwashing before meal preparation. Other forms of transmission include failure to wash hands after changing diapers, oral or anal intercourse with a person who has Hepatitis A or eating shellfish harvested from waters where human waste is present.
Because Hepatitis A is highly contagious, being in close proximity to someone who has been infected increases your risk for developing the virus. Other people at risk include:
• Daycare workers
• People who travel where Hepatitis A is common
• People experiencing homelessness
• Children in daycare
• People who have a sexual partner with Hepatitis A
• People who eat raw or undercooked shellfish
Effects Of Hepatitis A
When someone is infected with Hepatitis A, the virus travels the bloodstream to its intended target: the liver. Some people who develop HAV, especially young children, experience few or no symptoms. Others typically develop symptoms within two to six weeks after exposure. Mild infections last one to two weeks, but more severe infections can take longer to resolve. In rare cases, HAV can result in acute liver failure, particularly in the elderly, but the infection rarely causes lasting liver damage in young, healthy individuals. Common symptoms include:
• Flu-like symptoms
• Sudden nausea and vomiting
• Pain in the upper-right side of the body underneath the ribs
• Clay-colored stool
• Dark urine
• Intense itching
• Loss of appetite
• Low-grade fever
• Joint pain
You should schedule a doctor’s appointment immediately if you notice these symptoms to identify their source and guard against future complications.
Hepatitis A Diagnosis And Care
Diagnosing Hepatitis A requires highly specialized blood testing. Our team will draw blood from your arm for analysis at a lab. There, a technician will analyze your blood sample and determine if you have the virus.
There is no treatment available for Hepatitis A at this time. However, a preventative vaccine is available in two separate shots that can help protect you from this disease. It is often administered to children between 12 and 23 months of age, providing lifelong protection.
Alternatively, those older than 12 months can opt to receive this HAV vaccine at any time. If you are planning to travel out of the country, you should receive this vaccine at least two weeks before your trip to protect you from the virus. Practicing good personal hygiene, such as washing hands after using the bathroom or changing a diaper and before meal preparation, can also help protect you from contracting the virus.
If you have been diagnosed with Hepatitis A, we recommend the following interventions for your comfort and recovery:
• Get plenty of rest
• Drink generous amounts of fluids
• Avoid alcohol
• Snack through the day and eat small meals to combat nausea
Please note that the HAV vaccine does not treat existing cases of hepatitis A. If you have previously contracted this virus, you have a lifelong immunity and will not require vaccination.
Learn More About Hepatitis A
If you’ve noticed the symptoms of Hepatitis A, don’t wait – contact your nearest ID Care location today to schedule an appointment. Our infectious disease specialists will determine the cause of your symptoms and provide the care needed to ensure a successful recovery. For more information, please contact us online.