Hepatitis A

Hepatitis is an inflammation of the liver, which causes swelling and pain in the liver. As a result, the ability of the liver to function properly is hampered.

The five main types of viruses that cause hepatitis are:

  • Hepatitis A
  • Hepatitis B
  • Hepatitis C
  • Hepatitis D
  • Hepatitis E

The causes of Hepatitis are:

  • Autoimmune disorder
  • Liver injury
  • Alcohol abuse
  • Lack of blood supply to liver
  • Poison
  • Certain drugs
  • Viral infections like cytomegalovirus and mononucleosis

When the liver is inflamed due to Hepatitis, it will be unable to perform its basic function of getting rid of waste products like bilirubin in the blood.

The common symptoms of hepatitis are:

  • Jaundice
  • Itching of the skin
  • Body pains
  • Nausea
  • Fever
  • Fatigue
  • Loss of appetite
  • Abdominal pain
  • Weakness
  • Passing dark colored urine
  • Stools that are light in color
  • Skin and eyes turn yellowish due to jaundice

A virus called Hepatitis A virus (HAV) causes Hepatitis A. This spreads through oral fecal route, meaning contact of feces through mouth. This can happen due to consuming infected water and food. It is commonly seen in countries where sanitation is poor.

The virus also spreads through Oral anal sex route. It is known to spread in children in day care centers where the children in diapers may not be able to wash their own hands often.

In some cases, HAV virus is also known to spread through blood transfusion of infected blood or sharing needles with a HAV infected person.

Once you are infected with HAV and symptoms appear, you are very contagious. If you are a healthy adult, then you remain contagious for 2 weeks.

If your immune system is weak then you remain contagious for 6 months. A child with a weak immune system also remains contagious for 6 months.

Once you are infected with HAV, you develop immunity for the virus and rarely ever get it again.

There is no specific treatment for Hepatitis A.

  • Taking plenty of rest and consuming balanced diet is recommended.
  • Medication like acetaminophen and alcohol should be avoided as they can cause more liver damage.

If you have any problems like severe pain in abdomen or dehydration, consult your doctor. If you are taking any over the counter medications, you should inform your doctor.

You can prevent Hepatitis A by maintaining good personal hygiene habits. A few of them are mentioned below:

  • Wash your hands properly after you use the bathroom or after you change diapers of your kid.
  • Wash all the fruits and vegetables thoroughly before cooking.
  • Avoid raw meats.
  • Vaccinations are available for people at high risk of getting Hepatitis A.

The vaccination is advised for people living in communities with;

  • High incidence of HAV infection
  • children who are 1 year of age
  • people who travel to countries having high incidence of HAV infection
  • Men who have sex with other men
  • People who inject drugs with needles
  • People with chronic liver infections and people who are given clotting factor concentrates

A vaccination called Twinrix is given to people who are 18 years and above for protection against Hepatitis A virus and Hepatitis B virus. To prevent illness, a single dose of injection Immunoglobulin G (IG), is given with 14 days of HAV infection to prevent illness. This injection is also given if you feel you are going to get exposed to HAV infection.

If you are infected with HAV, you must talk to your sexual partner about it. It is advised that you abstain from sexual intercourse till you are completely cured.

Use of latex condoms and dental dams can prevent infection in oral anal sex.

Your liver is an important organ of the body. If it stops working, all the toxins would start accumulating in the body. Protect this precious organ by adopting hygiene habits, and getting vaccinated against the viral infection. It’s never too late to get yourself vaccinated.