Hepatitis A Symptoms, Transmission and Treatment

Hepatitis A

Our body is made up of bones, muscles, tissues, organs, and glands. These all parts of the body helps to function in a proper way. 

If in any case, one of the parts of the body does not function properly, then there is a disruption in other functions of the body.

In this article, we will discuss the function of the liver and disease caused by the liver i.e. Hepatitis A. 

Keep reading to know about the causes, symptoms, and transmission of Hepatitis A.

liver visualisationLiver

The liver is a discrete organ that plays many different inter-relating functions. 

The different functions performed by the liver are as follows: 

  1. It filters and stores blood 
  2. It helps in maintaining the metabolism of carbohydrates, proteins, fats, hormones, and foreign chemicals
  3. Moreover, it helps in the formation of bile
  4. It helps in the storage of vitamins and iron 
  5. It helps in the formation of coagulation factors. 

Causes of Liver Diseases

There are a number of illnesses that cause liver disease or the disease may begin in another organ and affects the liver. 

Some of these causes are as follows: 

Fatty Liver Disease

This disease is caused due to the accumulation of cholesterol and triglycerides within the liver. 

Cirrhosis

This disease is caused by the use of alcohol and causes scarring in the liver. 

Hepatitis

It is an infection that causes inflammation in the liver. It has 3 types. 

  • Hepatitis A, Hepatitis B and Hepatitis C

Use of medications

The use of certain medications can cause inflammation in the liver.

Some common medications that can cause inflammation are Tylenol, pain medications, Statins, antibiotics, etc. 

Toxins

A number of foods can cause inflammation in the liver.

For example, poisonous mushrooms, alcohol, aflatoxins present in fungi etc. 

Genetic Disorders 

Certain genetic disorders can also cause liver inflammation.

For instance, Gilbert’s disease causes abnormal bilirubin metabolism, Wilson’s disease causes abnormal copper accumulation etc. 

Abnormalities of Bile Flow

Abnormalities like gallstones, Primary sclerosing cholangitis and primary biliary cirrhosis can cause inflammation in the liver and disrupt the bile flow. 

So far, we have pointed out a number of causes of information in the liver.

Further, we will discuss hepatitis A, its symptoms, cause, transmission and treatments below. 

bile flow and hepatitis AHepatitis A

Hepatitis A infection is caused due to the Hepatitis A virus and is a vaccine-preventable liver infection. 

This hepatitis A infection is one of the contagious infections and spreads when a person injects food or water that is contaminated by the feces of an infected person.

The primary reason for the spreading of this disease is food and water, inadequate sanitation, poor hygiene, etc. 

Who is At the Risk of Getting Hepatitis A?

As hepatitis A is a contiguous disease, it spreads from one person to another. However, some factors can increase the risk. These are: 

  • Living in the area where Hepatitis A is widespread or there are poor sanitation standards
  • Using illegal drugs 
  • If a person in a house has already been diagnosed with hepatitis A, then they may be infected 
  • Being HIV positive 
  • Men who have sex with men are at the risk of developing Hepatitis A infection

How is Hepatitis Contracted? 

Hepatitis A is caused due to transmission of the HAV virus from one person to another.

The primary cause of transmission of this virus is food and liquid that has been contaminated by fecal matter that contains the virus. 

Apart from the above-stated reasons, it can also spread from one person to another, living in the same household. 

You can contract this virus by: 

  1. Eating the  cooked food made by the person who is already infected 
  2. A person who does not follow proper handwashing sanitation procedure 
  3. Eating fish that has been contaminated
  4. Drinking polluted or unfiltered water

If a person is contracted with the virus, the symptoms may appear after 1- 2 weeks. 

symptoms

Hepatitis A Symptoms

Symptoms of Hepatitis are usually mistaken for those of influenza but children may not show any symptoms. 

The risk of infection is directly related to the age of the person.

80% of adults show acute symptoms of HAV infection while children do not show any symptoms and the disease goes unrecognized. Moreover, cases of Hepatitis A is common among children than in adults

When a person is infected by Hepatitis A, he or she may not show any symptoms of liver damage and infection for 14 to 28 days. 

The symptoms of HAV range from mild to severe and are as follows: 

  1. Nausea
  2. Vomiting 
  3. Jaundice ( yellowing of skin and whites of the eye)
  4. Fever ( up to 102°)
  5. Fatigue
  6. Pain in the abdomen particularly the right side of the abdomen 
  7. Dark-colored urine
  8. Loss of appetite 
  9. Muscle pain

Most often, children show mild symptoms while adults show severe symptoms. 

The above-mentioned symptoms can last less than 2 months but in some cases, they may last as long as 6 months. 

Causes

There are a number of causes of HAV. These are: 

  1. When a person does not wash hands properly
  2. When a person is exposed to hepatitis A with an infected person
  3. A person does not wash hands properly after changing the diaper of an infant
  4. By eating food or drinking water that has been contaminated

A person may have and spread this virus unknowingly to other people before any symptoms are shown. A person before showing any symptom is most contagious. 

In some cases, HAV can cause acute liver failure, which involves excessive bleeding and increase pressure in the brain.

transmission

Transmission 

As mentioned above there are a number of reasons for its transmission.

One of the major reasons why this virus spread is the use of contaminated food by a person. Another reason for its transmission is the transmission from one person to another. 

The use of unfiltered water is one of the reasons that cause this virus to spread. Some studies suggest that when a person travels to a place where the virus is already widespread. 

Moreover, the spread of this liver damage disease is common in countries where hepatitis is widespread, according to the Centers for Disease Control.

In the United States, the number of these cases has increased from 33 and 12474 from the year 2017 to 201

Diagnosis 

Your physician or doctor will ask you for any symptoms that you have recently observed within yourself or anyone near you. 

Blood tests are usually done to check for IgM ( immunoglobulin M) antibodies and IgG (immunoglobulin G ) antibodies. 

The former antibody is present in the blood when we are first exposed to any disease while the latter one is present when the disease has been in the blood for a while. 

During the acute stage of this virus, the liver enzyme alanine transferase (ALT)  is present in higher levels in the blood. These enzymes come from damaged liver cells. 

Before clinical illness develops, Hapatovirus A is present in the blood and feces of the infected person. 

treatment

Treatment 

To date, there is no specific treatment for this condition.

Most often doctors treat the symptoms of this disease and it may take several weeks to months. 

As advised by many doctors, you are to take complete rest, a balanced diet and some medication prescribed by the doctor. 

In case you feel dehydrated, pain in the abdomen, become confused, or develop bleeding problems you might need to stay in hospital. 

To manage the symptoms of nausea, drink enough fruit juice or milk instead of water. To get enough calories, eat high-calorie full meals. Drinking enough fluids keeps you from dehydration in case vomiting occurs. 

Sometimes, certain medications can cause liver infections. Talk to your doctor about the medications you are taking to avoid further complications. 

prevention

Prevention of HAV

You can take certain steps to prevent Hepatitis A.

These include:

Vaccinations 

Vaccines can prevent a person from getting this infection. This hepatitis A vaccine is highly effective and provides protection against hepatitis in the long term.

The vaccine consists of 2 doses and lasts for 29 years of life. 

Natural Immunity 

People who have first been affected by Hepatitis A develop immunity against the HAV virus. 

This means that once you have been infected by the virus and treated, you cannot get this virus again as our body develops antibodies to fight this virus. 

Healthy Habits

Healthy eating habits,  proper sanitation washing hands properly after using the toilet and while eating and preparing food. 

As advised by most of the doctors, food should be built or cooked at a high temperature for about 1 minute to kill any virus present in the food.

Chlorination of water also helps to prevent the transmission of the HAV virus. 

Also follow safety precautions while traveling:

If you are traveling to parts of the world where its outbreak occurs, the following precautions should be taken. 

  1. Consult your doctor and get a vaccine shot before traveling 
  2. Peel and wash fruits and vegetables before eating yourself
  3. Drink filtered water or if not available then boil it before using it
  4. Do not eat raw or undercooked meat or fish

Exposure to HAV

If a person has been exposed to the HAV virus then certain measures should be taken to avoid further transmission of the HAV virus. 

The affected patient should avoid contact with other people in the same household.

A person who has been recently exposed should get vaccinated. 

Lifestyle Changes and Home Remedies

Certain lifestyle changes can help you and reduce the risk of transmission of the HAV virus. These are: 

  1. Avoid physical contact with the infected person 
  2. Wash your hands for at least 20 minutes after using the toilet and changing diapers. Use a dispensable towel afterward.
  3. Avoid preparing food if you have been diagnosed with the HAV virus. 

Hepatitis A virus

Conclusion

Our body has many organs and some organs play an independent role while others play dependent roles. 

The liver like other organs plays an important role in managing many functions of the body. 

As mentioned in the article, the liver maintains the blood, it is responsible for the metabolism of carbohydrates and fats and helps in the formation of bile. 

 You can take precautionary measures to prevent easily transmitted diseases.

Proper vaccination, washing hands for 20 seconds, boiling food for at least 1 minute to kill the germs, and using disposable towels can help avoid many contagious diseases. 

To prevent the transmission of the HAV virus, one must avoid contact with an infected person, washing hands after using the toilet, getting a vaccine before traveling to parts of the world where there may be an outbreak of the HAV virus and using filtered water. 

If a person has been diagnosed with hepatitis A virus, then with the consultation of doctor or physician, one should get enough rest, drink plenty of fluids and avoid medication that might be the cause of infection 

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