Hepatitis A is one of the 5 types of Hepatitis (A, B, C, D, E). The HAV virus causes this type of liver disease and usually results in inflammation of the liver. However, if left untreated, it can progress into severe infection and even liver cirrhosis and scarring. Hepatitis A can be prevented using vaccination and is usually treated for its symptoms until the infection disappears.
The Causes of Hepatitis A:
- Consuming water or food contaminated with the virus can lead to the disease. If an infected person prepares a meal, it can also lead to a chance of Hepatitis A infection.
- Poor sanitation and exposure to contaminated feces can lead to infection.
- An unvaccinated individual has a higher likelihood to be infected through exposure to these things.
- Excess consumption of alcohol and drugs can also heighten a chance for infection.
- The disease can also spread through blood-to-blood contact or sexual acts with an infected individual.
The Hepatitis A virus enters our body through the mouth, gut or blood, and shows symptoms around 2-6 weeks post this. The virus will reproduce within the liver, and spread infection, and this causes interference with liver functioning. Although it can be treated, this needs to be done in a timely manner before irreversible damage to the liver is seen.
The Phases of Hepatitis A
The disease progresses in 2 phases. The acute phase is less intense, and treatment should be administered in this phase. Usually, a hepatitis infection is mistaken for viral flu, and this is why testing is needed to verify the condition. The symptoms of the acute phase include:
The symptoms of acute disease include:
- Cold/ flu symptoms, fever
- Pale stool
- Diarrhea in young children
- Yellow skin and eyes
- Pain in the liver
- Dark brown urine
- Weakness, loss of appetite
If left untreated in the acute phase, the disease will spread into the fulminant phase, which is more serious. Symptoms include:
- Amplified spleens in alcoholics
- Dizziness and headaches, often seen in cases of drug addiction
Diagnosis & Treatment: Hepatitis A
Blood tests can be used to diagnose Hepatitis A, but this needs to be done in a timely manner in order to prevent the disease from becoming too severe. Doctors prescribe medication (eg. Ibuprofen) to treat the symptoms until the infection goes away. Patients must take adequate rest, refrain from consuming alcohol or drugs, and maintain a healthy diet. Short meals need to be observed in order to prevent dizziness and nausea.
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