Hepatitis A is an infection caused by the hepatitis A virus. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), hepatitis A occurs when the liver becomes inflamed. This illness is typically self-resolving and can have a minimal to substantial impact on the body.
You can get hepatitis A if you ingest food or drink that was contaminated with the virus, or if you have direct contact with someone who has the illness. This disease can also be contracted as a result of poor personal hygiene, or from oral or anal sex.
In 2016, more than 7,000 people died from hepatitis A around the world. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), more and more people in the U.S. have been contracting hepatitis A due to outbreaks.
What Are the Symptoms for Hepatitis A?
If you get hepatitis A, you may or may not have symptoms, according to the CDC. Symptoms may appear two to seven weeks after the virus enters your body, and they may last for one to six months. Symptoms can be mild or severe.
Symptoms of hepatitis A include:
- Joint pain
- Pale stools or dark urine
- Abdominal pain or upset stomach
- Nausea or vomiting
- Loss of appetite
- Yellow eyes or skin
Most of the time, hepatitis A clears in three to four months with no lasting damage.
Who is At Risk for Hepatitis A?
The following groups may have an elevated risk of contracting hepatitis A, according to the CDC:
- People who are homeless
- People who are adopting a child or traveling internationally
- People who work in certain occupations, such as the health care field
- People using illegal drugs
- Men who engage in sexual contact with other men
Also, people with HIV and people who have hepatitis B or hepatitis C are more likely to have a more severe illness if they contract hepatitis A.
How Can I Prevent Hepatitis A?
Hepatitis A is completely preventable by vaccination. There is a two-shot hepatitis A vaccination series. The WHO and the CDC report that it is also important to make sure your food is safely prepared and stored, and have good hygiene.
The following UofL Health practices can provide hepatitis A vaccinations to you or your loved ones if needed:
- UofL Physicians – Primary Care: 502-588-4343
- UofL Physicians – Vaccine & International Travel Center: 502-852-6464
Also, UofL Physicians – Digestive & Liver Health and UofL Physicians – Gastroenterology Associates are renowned for their skill in treating liver disorders, including hepatitis A.