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hepatitis a

overview

Hepatitis A is inflammation (swelling and irritation) of the liver, caused by the hepatitis A virus. Hepatitis A is the least dangerous type of viral hepatitis, but it is highly contagious. 
It’s usually spread by having close contact, especially sexual contact, with someone who’s infected. You can also get it by eating food or drinking water that has been improperly handled and contaminated with feces (stool), or by eating raw shellfish that came from water contaminated with sewage.

symptoms

Hepatitis A symptoms can include:

  • Low fever
  • Stomach pain
  • Jaundice (a yellowing of the skin and eyes)
  • Nausea, vomiting and diarrhea
  • Dark urine 
  • Pale stool

diagnosis

To diagnose hepatitis A, your doctor will ask about any symptoms you may have. He or she will also perform a physical exam, and may order blood tests. 

services & treatment

Unfortunately, there is no treatment for hepatitis A. However, the liver usually heals itself within a month or two. Until it does, avoid alcohol, sexual activity and cooking for others, and wash hands thoroughly after using the bathroom or changing a diaper.

Prevention of hepatitis A is important. Anyone over age 1 should get a hepatitis A vaccination – an initial shot followed by a booster shot 6 months later. If you didn’t receive the vaccination as a child, you can get it as a teen or adult. It’s especially important to be vaccinated if you have higher risk factors.

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