What Is Hepatitis A?
Hepatitis A is a type of viral hepatitis caused by the hepatitis A virus. The virus typically spreads through contaminated food or water, but it can also spread through close contact with an infected person.
Hepatitis A is contagious, especially in areas where:
- There is no clean water
- The sanitation system is poor
- Personal hygiene is poor
Hepatitis A doesn't cause chronic liver disease. Most people recover within a few weeks. Rarely, the virus can cause acute liver failure and death.
Symptoms of hepatitis A typically occur about a month after exposure to the virus.
Children younger than 6 usually have no signs or symptoms. Adults and older children typically experience the following:
- Fever – An abnormally high body temperature
- Fatigue – Extreme mental and physical tiredness that doesn't improve with rest
- Loss of appetite – Little to no desire to eat
- Diarrhea – Frequent liquid bowel movements that last a few days and often cause dehydration
- Nausea – A feeling of sickness in your stomach that may lead to vomiting
- Abdominal pain – Discomfort in the stomach
- Dark urine – Urine that is darker than normal, usually dark yellow or brown
- Jaundice – Yellowing of the skin and whites of the eyes
There is no treatment for hepatitis A. Doctors recommend the following to ease symptoms and reduce complications:
- Rest – Delay work or travel until you recover.
- Drink plenty of fluids – This prevents dehydration from diarrhea.
- Eat several small meals – Three large meals may aggravate nausea. Try eating small amounts of high-calorie foods throughout the day.
- Don't drink alcohol – This can cause liver damage.
- Avoid taking medications – It's harder for the liver to process medicines when you have hepatitis A. Ask your doctor which medicines to stop taking while you wait for the virus to clear your system.
- Get the hepatitis A vaccine – The vaccine can make symptoms less severe if received within two weeks of exposure to the virus.
Ready for an Appointment?
If you're experiencing signs or symptoms of Hepatitis A, schedule an appointment or call 800-TEMPLE-MED (800-836-7536) today.
Learn more about our doctors and care team who diagnose and treat Hepatitis A.