Did you know that you could have Hepatitis A and not know it? People often have the disease but do not develop symptoms and often do not get accurately diagnosed. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the number of Hepatitis A cases in the United States has increased significantly over the past few years.
Read on to learn about how you can get this contagious liver illness, the symptoms and how it is diagnosed and treated by our team at Ocean Family Gastroenterology.
What is Hepatitis A?
Hepatitis A is an acute viral disease that causes inflammation of the liver. Your liver is the body’s detoxification organ that also regulates metabolic processes and plays a key role in nutrient absorption and utilization.
Hepatitis A is very contagious. There are number of ways you can catch the disease. It is spread when someone unknowingly ingests the virus — even in microscopic amounts — through close personal contact with an infected person or through eating contaminated food or drink.
It can affect both children and adults. Adults tend to get sicker (and more jaundiced).
Hepatitis A Symptoms
Hepatitis A usually resolves spontaneously, and it very rarely leads to acute liver failure. The time between infection and the start of symptoms is approximately two to six weeks.
Symptoms can last up to two months. When you have hepatitis A, you usually experience some of the following symptoms:
- Abdominal pain
- Poor appetite and weight loss
- Nausea and vomiting
- Jaundice, or yellowing of the skin and the eyes
- Clay-colored stools
- Dark urine
Hepatitis A Diagnosis and Treatment
If you think you might have Hepatitis A, you should see your doctor. Your doctor will ask about your symptoms and do a physical exam. You will probably need a blood test to check for Hepatitis A antibodies to confirm a diagnosis.
Since Hepatitis A is a viral disease, treatment is usually for symptom management and patient comfort until the virus goes away. Your gastroenterologist will likely recommend the following:
- Plenty of fluids, particularly if there has been a lot of vomiting or diarrhea
- Stomach-soothing medication
- No acetaminophen or other drugs that place extra stress on the liver
Vaccination is recommended as a means of prevention. In some countries, vaccination for Hepatitis A is routinely recommended for younger children and those at risk. Other prevention methods include handwashing and cooking food thoroughly.
Hepatitis A Treatment in Toms River, NJ
At Ocean Family Gastroenterology, our highly qualified gastroenterology team provides excellent medical care for the full range of digestive and liver conditions – including all types of Hepatitis. We provide our patients with the tools they need to make educated decisions about their digestive health and care.
To schedule a consultation with a member of our gastroenterology team, please call our office at (732) 281-1590 or visit us online HERE. We look forward to serving our patients in the Toms River, NJ area.