Hepatitis A is a virus found in the stool (faeces) of people with hepatitis A (HAV) infection. People with HAV infection become contagious early in the incubation period and can start spreading the infection even before they develop symptoms. A person remains contagious for about 7-8 days after developing jaundice (that is yellow discolouration of the skin or eyes).
Hepatitis A (HAV) is usually a mild infection and many people with HAV infection may not have any symptoms. HAV infection is more likely to be symptomatic in older people and young children. Infected people who do not develop symptoms can also transmit infection to others. Symptoms of hepatitis A usually develop about 4 weeks after infection (can range from 2 to 6 weeks).
If you have frequent or recurrent vomiting, dehydration may occur. Some of the symptoms of dehydration are:
Symptoms of HAV infection usually last less than two months, but can continue for months (as long as nine months). According to some studies, in 15% people, symptoms of HAV infection come and go for 6-9 months. Most people with HAV infection recover without treatment.
Currently there are no specific medicines for the treatment of infection with hepatitis A. Infection with hepatitis A virus is mostly a self-limiting disease in most people and just symptomatic treatment is needed.
Most people with HAV infection after diagnosis can be cared for at home. If the symptoms are severe (such as dehydration, confusion, or difficult to stay awake), then admission to a hospital for treatment will be needed.
For people exposed to someone with HAV infection, treatment with a medication called immune globulin may prevent the infection. Treatment with immunoglobulin is most likely to be effective if administered within 2 weeks of exposure.
After the acute symptoms resolve it is important to follow your doctor’s recommendations for further care and successful hepatitis A treatment. These include:
Consult your doctor any time you notice hepatitis A symptoms.
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