Hepatitis A is the condition caused by the hepatitis A virus and is the swelling or inflammation of the liver. Hepatitis A is a less serious form of hepatitis as it will not become a chronic condition – reoccurring or affecting an individual for life – and the symptoms that a patient experiences from hepatitis A are less than the symptoms caused by the conditions of hepatitis B or C.
However, the hepatitis A virus is a very contagious virus as it can be easily contracted when coming into close contact with an individual who has this virus as well as eating or drinking any food or beverages that have been contaminated with it.
Causes of Hepatitis A
Hepatitis A can develop when an individual comes into contact with the hepatitis A virus and most commonly occurs when a small amount of fecal matter that is contaminated with the virus is ingested through food or water, however, it be contracted when coming physically into contact with the feces or blood of another human being who is infected by the virus.
You can also contract hepatitis A if another individual who has this virus fails to properly wash their hands after using the restroom and touches an object or food that you later come in contact with. It can also be contracted through oral or anal sexual relations with an individual who has the virus.
This virus can be contracted from another individual who is infected with the virus fifteen to forty five days prior to them experiencing any symptoms and up to approximately one week after they become ill. Most individuals will not have any of the signs or symptoms of hepatitis A until approximately one month after they have been infected.
A common cause of hepatitis A occurs from eating food or drinking water that has been contaminated by raw sewage with the most common foods and beverages associated with the contracting of hepatitis A being raw shellfish, vegetables, fruits, water, and ice.
Prevention and Treatment of Hepatitis A
In order to reduce your risk of contracting hepatitis A, you should always ensure that you wash your hands properly after using the restroom or come into contact with the bodily fluids of anyone who is or may be potentially infected.
Other ways to avoid becoming infected with hepatitis A include avoiding any food or water that is unclean, as well as unsafe sexual practices. Individuals who are at a high risk for contracting hepatitis include health care workers, individuals who travel to regions or areas that have high rate of hepatitis A infections, illicit drug users, and men who have sexual relations with other men.
There is no specific form of treatment that is available for hepatitis A and most individuals will welcome this condition within one to two months with getting extra rest, avoiding alcohol or medicines that could have a negative effect on the liver, and treating any symptoms of nausea by eating more frequent smaller meals containing foods that are easy to digest.
A vaccine is available that can possibly prevent the development of hepatitis A when it is given within two weeks of coming into contact with the virus, therefore if you suspect that you may have come into contact with the hepatitis A virus, you should immediately contact your physician or local health department and inquire about receiving this vaccine.