Hepatitis involves inflammation of the liver due to alcohol abuse, exposure to detrimental toxins, infection or immune disorders. Remember that viruses are the causes of most cases of the disease, specifically the hepatitis A virus which is considered as an acute form of hepatitis that does not require treatment.
Millions of cases of hepatitis A occur all over the world yearly. As a highly contagious form, it can spread via contaminated water or food. Luckily, it is not serious and does not cause any lasting effects. After some time, the infection subsides on its own.
What are the indications?
Children below 6 years old do not usually have any symptoms once they acquire the virus. As for older children, teenagers and adults, they develop mild symptoms such as the following:
- Light-colored stool
- Flu-like symptoms
- Dark urine
- Abdominal pain
- Appetite loss
- Unexplained weight loss
These symptoms typically manifest 15-50 days after acquiring the virus.
What causes hepatitis A?
Individuals end up with hepatitis A after acquiring the hepatitis A virus. The virus is contracted after ingesting food or liquid that has been contaminated by fecal matter that contains the virus. Upon ingestion, the infection spreads via the bloodstream up to the liver where it triggers inflammation and swelling.
The infection can also be acquired by close personal contact with an infected individual. Remember that the virus is highly contagious and can easily spread to others who live in the same household.
Other ways in which one can acquire hepatitis A
- Eating food prepared by an infected individual
- Drinking polluted or contaminated water
- Consumption of food handled by workers who do not observe strict hand washing methods before touching food
- Contact with fecal matter infected by hepatitis A
- Unprotected sex with an infected individual
- Eat raw shellfish contaminated by sewage
If an individual acquires the virus, one is considered contagious even 2 weeks before the symptoms manifest. This contagious period usually ends within a week after the symptoms appear.
Remember that there is no prescribed treatment for hepatitis A. As a short-term viral infection that subsides on its own, the treatment is aimed on minimizing the symptoms.
After getting some rest, the symptoms typically start to improve on their own. Measures to help ease the symptoms include the following:
- Avoidance of alcohol
- Drinking plenty of water to avoid dehydration
- Maintaining a healthy diet