Hepatitis A

What is Hepatitis A?

Hepatitis A is an acute infectious liver disease caused by the Hepatitis A virus. The time between infection and the appearance of symptoms in people affected by Hepatitis A is about two to six weeks. Once the infection happens, it can last for a few weeks to a few months. Hepatitis A is not a long term disease, and is usually cured quite easily, except in the elderly, where it might even lead to acute liver failure. Otherwise, rest and proper intake of fluids almost always cures the disease. The prevalence of the virus is decreasing in the developed nations. Therefore, people who visit developing and underdeveloped countries are advised to get themselves tested for Hepatitis A, as soon as they return from their travels. Timely testing can safely prevent the transmission of the disease. This is particularly recommended when they are visiting places marked by poor sanitation and lack of safe drinking water.

How does Hepatitis A spread?

The infected fecal matter is the primary transmission medium for Hepatitis A. Even if a minuscule amount of virus infected fecal matter comes in contact with objects, food or drinks, they become carriers of the virus. Anyone ingesting the virus through any of these modes can easily get infected with Hepatitis A. The disease can also be spread through oral and anal sex with an infected person. As the virus can stay silent without producing any symptoms, it is possible that the carrier can transmit the virus up to two weeks prior to the appearance of symptoms. In some rare cases, the infection may spread even with close contact with the infected person.

What are the symptoms of Hepatitis A?

As explained, Hepatitis A does not always come with symptoms. And when it does, the symptoms are not well defined either. In facts, the early symptoms of Hepatitis A are so non-specific that they can be commonly mistaken to be caused by influenza. The patient can exhibit fever, fatigue, nausea, appetite loss, diarrhea, jaundice, vomiting, joint pain, clay-colored feces, dark urine, and many other symptoms. It is not necessary that all of them appear simultaneously. As the symptoms of Hepatitis A overlap with many other diseases, it is advised that people fearing the infection should undergo a test immediately.

How do I get tested for Hepatitis A?

The symptoms of Hepatitis A are quite similar to many other common infections. Therefore, a blood test is required to ascertain whether an individual is infected with the virus. It is a simple test, which looks for the presence of Hepatitis A antibodies in the body. These antibodies are produced by the immune system with the sole purpose of fighting the virus, and hence are not found in the unaffected individuals. We have rounded up some of the most sophisticated and reputed testing centers across the country, where you can undergo Hepatitis A testing. All you need to do is visit the test center, give them a sample of your blood, and that’s it. You will get your results in less than 2 days.

Can Hepatitis A be treated?

Hepatitis A cannot be treated. But, that doesn’t mean you cannot be cured. You see, there is no specific medication against Hepatitis A, but the body’s natural immune system fights and cures the disease completely in most people. However, it can take a few months for that to happen and people can remain sick for the duration. Good nutrition, fluid intake, and rest are necessary to help the body to fight against the infection. In some cases, your doctor might prescribe you some medication on an as-needed basis to alleviate some specific symptoms of Hepatitis A, such as nausea, diarrhea, or fever. But, that is strictly at the discretion of your doctor. The good thing about Hepatitis A is that once the virus infects and the infected is cured, the person becomes immune to the disease for the rest of other life.

How to prevent Hepatitis A infection?

The best method to prevent Hepatitis A virus from infecting you is to get yourself vaccinated with immune globulin. A shot right before traveling or when you think there is a higher risk of disease contraction, can prevent you from catching the infection. Also, washing the hands thoroughly with soap before cooking, after using the bathroom, before eating, after changing a diaper, and other instances of virus contamination, help prevent the spread of the disease.