Hepatitis A is a liver infection caused by the hepatitis A virus, which causes inflammation in the liver and affects its ability to function properly. People mostly get infected with this highly contagious virus by consuming contaminated food or water or by being in close contact with someone who is already infected. Let's have a look at some of the causes of this infection before going onto the symptoms of this disease.
Causes of Hepatitis A
As mentioned earlier, the hepatitis A virus is the reason behind hepatitis A. This virus is highly contagious and can spread when tiny amounts of contaminated fecal matter are consumed by the individual. Here a few ways that this virus can enter your body:
If someone infected with this virus does not wash his or her hands properly after using the toilet and handles the food that you eat
- If you drink contaminated water
- If you eat raw shellfish taken from water that has been polluted with sewage
- If you come in close contact with someone who has the infection
- If you have sex with someone infected with the virus
- If the blood that you receive during a blood transfusion contains the virus
Once the virus enters the body, it will infect the liver cells and cause inflammation in this organ. This can impair its function and cause you to experience the signs and symptoms of Hepatitis A.
Symptoms of Hepatitis A
The common signs and symptoms of hepatitis A include the following:
- Dark-colored urine
- Nausea and vomiting
- Pain or discomfort in the area where the liver is located, that is on the right side of the abdomen beneath the lower ribs
- Loss of appetite
- Low-grade fever
- Pain in the muscles
- Pale or clay-colored stools
- Jaundice or yellowing of the skin and eyes
Not everyone with the virus develops these signs and symptoms, however, an individual infected with this virus may develop these symptoms within two to six weeks of getting infected.
Treatment of Hepatitis A
There is not any specific treatment for hepatitis A, however, rest is recommended during the phase when the symptoms are at their peak. Most people get better within three months. Others may need six months to get better. Alcohol, fatty foods, and other substances that can be toxic to the liver should be avoided during this period.
You should consult your doctor if you have any of the above signs and symptoms of hepatitis A. Vaccine or immunoglobulin therapy can help if you think you have been infected by the virus. Make sure to consult your doctor if you ate in a restaurant that reports a hepatitis A outbreak, someone close to you is diagnosed with this disorder, you had sexual contact with someone infected with the virus, or if you shared injected drugs with someone who may be infected with the virus.