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About Hepatitis a
Hepatitis A is a liver disease caused by an infection of the hepatitis A virus (HAV). One of several hepatitis diseases, hepatitis A is highly contagious. HAV may be spread through close contact - including sexual contact - with an individual who has the disease or through consuming a substance that has been contaminated with trace amounts of fecal matter.
- Eating raw shellfish that has been contaminated with sewer water
- Consuming food prepared by someone who did not properly wash hands after using the bathroom
- Consuming produce that has not been properly washed
- Drinking water contaminated with fecal matter
- Recreational drug use (especially injected drugs)
- Close contact with an infected individual
HAV infects the liver, causing inflammation and decreased function.
- Nausea & vomiting
- Stomach pain
- Light-colored stool
- Jaundice (yellowing of the skin and whites of the eyes)
- Dark urine
Most mild cases of hepatitis A will go away without medical treatment and do not result in liver failure or liver damage. However, older adults and those with chronic liver disease are at risk of experiencing liver failure caused by hepatitis A. If you are experiencing a combination of the symptoms above, or have had contact with someone recently diagnosed with hepatitis A, contact your health care provider right away to treat the disease.
Practicing good hygiene, namely, washing your hands thoroughly after restroom use and before handling food are the best methods to prevent an infection from the hepatitis A virus.
Many cases of hepatitis A result in relatively mild symptoms and do not require treatment. However, there are a number of steps you can take to reduce your symptoms and encourage recovery. During your appointment, talk to your provider about the treatment plan that’s right for you.