Hepatitis A – Liver Disease Specialist Columbia, SC
Have you noticed yellowing of your skin or the whites of your eyes while also feeling nauseous or fatigued? You may have hepatitis A (hep A), one of five types of hepatitis caused by viruses that affect the liver.
Hep A is commonly spread by consuming contaminated food or water. You're more likely to contract the virus if you've have had sexual intercourse with an infected person, or if you've recently traveled to places like South America or Central America.
Your healthcare provider can diagnose hep A and recommend the best course of treatment. There is also a hepatitis A vaccine available to help protect you from infection. To speak with a hepatitis A specialist today in Columbia, call us at (843) 492-4884 or contact Dr. Dalal Akoury online.
What Are the Symptoms of Hepatitis A?
Hepatitis A symptoms usually don't appear until a few weeks after you've contracted the virus. Sometimes the virus causes no or very mild symptoms. In other cases, hepatitis A can cause very severe symptoms.
Common symptoms include:
- sudden nausea and vomiting
- joint pain
- abdominal pain, typically on your upper right side under your ribs
- clay-colored bowel movements
- low fever
What Causes Hepatitis A?
Hep A is caused by a virus that attacks your liver cells, causing inflammation. The usual ways of contracting hep A include:
- eating food handled by an infected person
- drinking contaminated water
- eating raw shellfish from polluted water
- having sexual contact with an infected person
- being in close contact with an infected person
Several risk factors that can increase your chances of getting infected with hep A include:
- traveling to areas where the virus is common
- living with an infected person
- ignoring typical safe-sex protection measures
- having HIV/AIDS
- working in child care
- using illicit drugs (not just injectable drugs)
How Is Hepatitis A Diagnosed?
Hepatitis A is usually identified in your blood. Your healthcare provider will request a blood draw, and your blood will be sent to a lab for testing.
How Is Hepatitis A Treated?
Hepatitis A has no cure, but must be managed. If you're generally healthy, your body will remove the virus on its own. Healing times can vary widely depending on your specific condition and medical history, but hep A can last up to six months or longer in some cases.
Lifestyle changes that can help manage symptoms include:
- getting lots of regenerative sleep
- avoiding alcohol; since hep A affects your liver, it may not properly process alcohol
- ibuprofen for pain: side effects include stomachache, dizziness, and rash
- metoclopramide for nausea: side effects include fatigue, diarrhea, and insomnia
- yoga or meditation for stress relief
- essential oils: peppermint oil for nausea; lavender for stress relief
- homeopathic remedies: natrum sulphuricum and pulsatilla nigra
A diet to help prevent or manage hepatitis A includes:
- vegetables like spinach and broccoli
- root vegetables like sweet potatoes and carrots
- fresh fruit like blueberries
- organic meat and wild fish
- anti-inflammatory spices like ginger and ginger tea
- nuts and seeds like walnuts and flaxseeds
- probiotic-rich yogurt
- gluten-free grains like brown rice and oats
- bone broth
- healthy fats found in avocados and olive oil
You should avoid foods like those high in processed sugar (cookies and soda), saturated fat (butter, fatty meats), and salt.
Intravenous vitamin C therapy has been shown to protect the liver. The ascorbic acid (found in vitamin C) is an antioxidant used to treat chronic hepatitis C and may quicken your recovery time.1
Stem cell therapy research has shown promising results. This regenerative treatment may be able to help damaged liver cells regenerate through functional hepatocyte-like cells derived from pluripotent stem cells.2
If you have hep A, you can avoid infecting others by not having sex, washing your hands after using the restroom or changing diapers, and not preparing food for others.
As with any medical procedure, results vary from patient to patient, depending on age, genetics, condition severity, as well as environmental and health factors. Consult your healthcare practitioner before embarking on your treatment journey.
Speak to your health care provider about what treatment(s) are best for you.
Hepatitis A vaccine
The hep A vaccine was created in 1995, and the effectiveness of large-scale immunization programs in North America with the inactivated HAV vaccines caused a 94%–97% reduction in the incidence of acute HAV within 6-10 years.3
People who can likely benefit most from the vaccine include:
- all children ages 1 and over
- those traveling to nations where hep A is more common, such as in Africa, South America, or Central America
- family and caregivers of children adopted from nations where hep A is common
- men who have sexual intercourse with other men
- recreational drug users
- patients with long-term liver disease like hep B or hep C
- patients with blood clotting disorders
- people who have close contact with hep A patients
Hepatitis A vaccine side effects usually last one to two days and include:
- soreness around the injection site
- mild headache
- loss of appetite (especially among children)
Warning signs of an allergic reaction include:
- high fever
- behavior changes
- hoarse voice or wheezing
- pale skin
- rapid heartbeat
Rare but severe reactions include4:
- Guillain-Barre syndrome
- multiple sclerosis
If you have any reaction, call your healthcare provider immediately.
Reserve Your Appointment Now
Hepatitis A is a highly infectious viral disease that can cause severe symptoms. Consult your healthcare provider to get a diagnosis, treatment options, and advice on how to avoid infecting others with the virus.
1. Horisawa, Kenichi, and Atsushi Suzuki. "Cell-Based Regenerative Therapy for Liver Disease." Innovative Medicine (2015): 327–339. Web. 31 July 2018.
2. Melhem, A, et al. "Treatment of chronic hepatitis C virus infection via antioxidants: results of a phase I clinical trial." Journal of clinical gastroenterology 39.8 (2005): 737-42. Web. 31 July 2018.
3. Ogholikhan, Sina, and Kathleen B. Schwarz. "Hepatitis Vaccines." Ed. Diane M. Harper. Vaccines 4.1 (2016): 6. PMC. Web. 25 July 2018.
4. "Product Information. Havrix (hepatitis A vaccine)." SmithKline Beecham, Philadelphia, PA.
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