Hepatitis A is a contagious infection that affects the liver and spreads through the consumption of contaminated food and water. Hep A Virus (HAV) can cause swelling and inflammation in the liver, resulting in a build-up of waste products in your tissues and bloodstream.

According to a report, approximately 1.5 million Hepatitis A cases occur worldwide every year, with an increasing annual rate in the United States. HAV is usually found in the blood and stool of infected people and can transmit to others with a simple touch. Keep reading to learn about the symptoms, causes, diagnosis, and treatment for the Hepatitis A virus.

The Causes of Hepatitis A | How Is Hep A Contracted?

Hepatitis A virus can be transmitted between people via the “fecal-oral route.” Once the Hep A Virus comes in contact with a new host, it infects the bloodstream and spreads to the liver, causing swelling and inflammation. A person can contract the Hep A Virus in the following cases:

● Eating sewage-contaminated vegetables, ice, fruits, and raw shellfish.

● Eating food prepared by a person suffering from Hepatitis A.

● Ingesting contaminated water and food.

● Being sexually involved with someone having Hepatitis A.

● Touching or eating food prepared by people with bad hygiene habits.

People who are at a higher risk of suffering from Hepatitis A include:

● Those living in lower-income communities and countries with poor sanitation.

● People who inject illegal drugs, especially those who use the same syringe.

● People with HIV.

● Homeless people.

● Men who have sex with other men.

● People caring for or living with a person who’s infected with Hep A Virus.  

● People who work in the sewage, food, or healthcare industry.

● People who are suffering from clotting-factor disorders like hemophilia.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), 90% of children living in countries with poor sanitation suffer from Hepatitis A by the age of 10.

What Are the Symptoms of Hepatitis A?

The symptoms of Hepatitis A usually occur within 2 to 5 weeks after exposure to the virus. This is also known as the incubation period, as the virus starts replicating in your body and attacks the immune system as soon as it’s strong enough. Children over 6 years of age and adults can show the following signs when suffering from Hep A:

● Abdominal pain – especially in the upper right quadrant

● Nausea

● Vomiting

● Loss of appetite

● Fatigue or weakness

● Diarrhea

● Jaundice – yellowing of eyes and skin

● Fever

● Itchy skin

● Joint pain

● Unexplained weight loss

● Dark-colored pee

● Light-colored poop

Important: You must remember that Hepatitis A is contagious for 2 weeks before the symptoms develop and 3 weeks after treatment.  

When Should I Consult a Healthcare Provider?

Hepatitis A symptoms can vary from mild to severe and can last for several weeks to months, depending on how bad the infection is. You must consult your healthcare provider in the following cases:

● You think you have been exposed to the Hep A Virus.

● Your symptoms have lasted for more than 2 months.

● Your Hep A symptoms have relapsed.

● You have severe symptoms that aren’t improving.

● Older adults.

● People taking immunosuppressants.

● You are interested in being vaccinated against the Hep A virus.

● People with pre-existing chronic liver disease.

How Is Hepatitis A Diagnosed?

If you have recently been in physical contact with someone suffering from Hepatitis A and have the symptoms, visit your healthcare provider as soon as possible. The medical professional will conduct a physical examination to look for evident signs of jaundice, enlarged spleen, and enlarged liver. They will then take a sample of your blood and test it for the presence of the Hep A Virus (HAV). The healthcare provider will also look for specific antibodies in your blood to determine the severity of the infection. In case of severe symptoms, liver function tests will be conducted to check for liver disease.

Is Hepatitis A Treatable? | What Is the Treatment for Hep A Virus?

While there is no specific treatment for Hepatitis A as the symptoms go away on their own, here are some tips to speed up the recovery process:

● Stay in bed and rest until jaundice and fever have subsided.

● Stay hydrated – drink broths and smoothies to get the much-needed nutrition.

● Maintain a balanced diet.

● Monitor your symptoms and talk to your healthcare provider if they worsen.

● Try taking a break from drugs, smoking, medications, and alcohol to avoid putting stress on your liver.

● Talk to your healthcare provider before taking herbs.

How Can I Prevent Hepatitis A?

Getting vaccinated is one of the best ways to reduce the risk of Hepatitis A. The Hepatitis A vaccine is given in two shots with a difference of 6 months. You can also prevent getting Hepatitis A by making the following lifestyle changes:

● Drinking bottled water.

● Use clean water to brush your teeth.

● Wash your hands thoroughly before and after cooking food, changing the diaper, and using the toilet.

● Avoid eating ice and drinking all beverages of unknown purity.

● Always use a condom when having sex.

● Avoid eating uncooked vegetables and fruits, and shellfish.

● Practice good hygiene.

Reach Out to an Illinois Food Poisoning Attorney

Hepatitis A is a contagious virus that affects approximately 10,000 to 20,000 people in the United States annually, out of which only 3,000 cases are reported. Hep A Virus can spread when contaminated food and water are ingested.

While the symptoms in most Hepatitis A cases might be zero to mild, the Hep A liver infection can be life-threatening in severe cases. This means 15 to 50 days of missed work and mental anguish. If you have been infected by the Hep A Virus (HAV), a Newland & Newland LLP attorney can help you in filing a lawsuit against the party at fault. Our lawyers will relentlessly fight for the compensation that you deserve in a court of law. Prevent a future Hepatitis A outbreak by hiring an Illinois food poisoning attorney today!

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