You can be infected with hepatitis A for a month before you start to develop symptoms, which may include general fatigue and yellowing of the skin and eyes. Meade Edmunds, MD, and his experienced team at Edmunds Gastroenterology in Knoxville, Tennessee, specialize in the diagnosis and management of hepatitis A and can provide the care you need while the infection runs its course. For an appointment, call the office today or request one online.
Hepatitis A is an infection of the liver with subsequent inflammation caused by the hepatitis A virus, which is often found in stool of infected patients.
The transmission of this virus through food or waterborne sources is very common. Exposure of an infected person with hepatitis A may result in acute infection. The risk for hepatitis A is high in settings where poor hygiene and unsanitary conditions prevail.
The symptoms of hepatitis A typically occur around one month after exposure to infection. Symptoms are often very vague and include fatigue, nausea, and possibly vomiting. Loss of appetite and an overall general poor feeling may be predominant. Jaundice, which is a yellowing of the skin, and scleral icterus (yellowing of the eyes) may also occur.
Hepatitis A is diagnosed primarily through blood work, which can identify acute phase markers for the infection.
There is no specific treatment for hepatitis A. Most patients resolve their acute illness on their own and develop an immunity to recurrent infection. If the infection for hepatitis A is severe, you may require hospitalization with supportive care such as intravenous fluids.
As previously mentioned, most patients completely recover within six months, although about 15% of people may have recurrent and relapsing symptoms for up to 12 months.
There is a vaccine for hepatitis A, and this should be given to healthcare workers, and daycare workers, as well as people who work in food preparation. Vaccination should also be given to people traveling to areas with high rates of hepatitis A. The vaccination helps your body develop an immunity to the viral infection so if you come into contact with it, you won’t get sick.
If you’re not vaccinated, you need to avoid drinking unclean water and unclean food to protect yourself from contracting the virus. You should also wash your hands after using the restroom and before you eat.
Hepatitis A isn’t as serious as other types of hepatitis viral infections, but it can cause symptoms that may affect your quality of life. If you have concerns about hepatitis A, call Edmunds Gastroenterology today or request an appointment online.
This information is not intended to diagnose or treat any condition. Please consult with your primary care physician or a specialist regarding your symptoms.