Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Know Hepatitis A

What is Hepatitis A?
Hepatitis A, formerly known as infectious hepatitis is an acute infectious disease of the liver caused by the hepatitis A virus (Hep A), an RNA virus, transmitted person-to-person by ingestion of contaminated food or water or through direct contact with an infectious person.

What causes Hepatitis A?
Hepatitis A is caused by a virus (hepatitis A virus, or HAV) that multiplies in liver cells and is shed in stool.

Who gets Hepatitis A?
Anyone can get hepatitis A, but some people are at higher risk, including
  • people who travel to developing countries
  • people who live with someone who has hepatitis A
  • people who use illegal drugs, including noninjection drugs
  • men who have sex with men
You could get hepatitis A through contact with an infected person's stool.
You could get hepatitis A from:
  • eating food made by an infected person who didn't wash his or her hands after using the bathroom
  • drinking untreated water or eating food washed in untreated water
  • placing a finger or object in your mouth that came into contact with an infected person's stool
  • having close personal contact with an infected person, such as through sex or caring for someone who is ill
You cannot get hepatitis A from:
  • someone sneezing or coughing on you
  • sitting next to a person who has hepatitis A
  • hugging an infected person

What are the symptoms?
Children younger than age 6 often have no symptoms. Older children and adults often get mild, flulike symptoms, including

How is it diagnosed?
Blood tests will show if you have hepatitis A.

How is it treated?
Hepatitis A usually gets better in a few weeks without treatment. Get lots of rest and avoid drinking alcohol, which bothers the liver. Your doctor may suggest medicines to help relieve your symptoms, or medicines you may want to avoid. If symptoms persist, especially if you are an older person, then you should see a doctor again.
When you recover, your body will have learned to fight off a future hepatitis A infection. However, you can still get other kinds of hepatitis.

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