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Hepatitis A

Hepatitis A is a contagious viral infection that inflames the liver. The virus is spread by contact with infected fecal matter, either by ingesting contaminated food/water or by direct contact with someone already infected.

SYMPTOMS OF HEPATITIS A

The virus’s incubation period ranges from 2 weeks to 2 months.  An infected person can spread the virus for a week before symptoms appear or during the first week of symptoms.  Even when no symptoms are noticeable, the virus may be spread.

Symptoms include:

  • Jaundice;
  • Abdominal pain;
  • Loss of appetite;
  • Nausea;
  • Fever;
  • Diarrhea;
  • Fatigue.

DIAGNOSING HEPATITIS A

A blood test is required to diagnose hepatitis A.

TREATMENT OPTIONS FOR HEPATITIS A

The liver will heal itself over the course of a few months. Currently, no treatments will cure the virus. Doctors may wish to monitor patients during the healing process to ensure liver function is returning as expected. Complete recovery may take up to 6 months.

Hepatitis A does not cause chronic liver disease.

A small percentage of patients may experience a relapse during the 6 months following their initial infection.

If the vaccine has not been given previously, hepatitis A immune globulin medication given within 2 weeks of the patient’s exposure to the hepatitis A virus may reduce the illness’s length and severity.

PREVENTING HEPATITIS A

A hepatitis A vaccine is available for long-term protection.

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