Hepatitis A: Signs, Symptoms, Diagnosis, Prevention, Treatment, Prognosis
Hepatitis A infection which was previously known as infectious hepatitis is an acute disease of the liver which is caused due to hepatitis A virus. This virus is transmitted into humans by ingesting adulterated food or water or via direct contact with a person who is suffering from this infection. There are millions of cases of this infection identified throughout the world every year. The estimated time between contracting the infection and the onset of symptoms is about a month and a half. The risk of having this disease is primarily high in developing countries and in regions where the standard of hygiene is below average.
In the United States it is the youngsters who travel to places where the risk of contracting the infection is high have this infection.
Signs and Symptoms of Hepatitis A
The initial signs and symptoms of hepatitis A resemble that of a common influenza infection but generally infected people especially children experience no symptoms up until at least a month and a half. The estimated duration of symptoms in an infected individual is generally a couple of months even though in some people it may be prolonged to as long as six months. Some of the symptoms are:
- Loss of appetite
- Stools that are clay in color.
Diagnosis of Hepatitis A
Although this virus is eliminated from the body via stool, a confirmatory diagnosis of hepatitis A is made when specific IgM antibodies are found in blood draws. This antibody can be detected after a couple of weeks of contracting the infection and be present in the blood for as long as four months. The presence of this antibody signifies that the acute phase of the disease is finished and the body becomes immune to any further infection. When this disease is at its acute stage, the levels of ALT in blood is significantly high than normal due to injury to the liver cells due to the virus.
Prevention of Hepatitis A
For prevention of this disease, good hygiene and sanitation is vital. There are two kinds of vaccinations available for prevention of this virus, one contains the inactivated form of the virus and the other contains a live form of the virus but both are effective in providing immunity from the disease.
Treatment of Hepatitis A
There is clear cut treatment for hepatitis A infection. People who are affected are advised to stay well hydrated, avoid foods containing fats, avoiding alcohol is imperative for affected people as it may cause minor relapses.
Prognosis for Hepatitis A
The CDC in the United States had reported in the 1990s of about 4 deaths per 1000 people who are infected in the normal population, the risk of which increases in people who are above the age of 50. There is increased risk of liver failure from this infection with increase in age and in people who already have an underlying liver disease. Children who are infected with this disease recover within a month of the onset of symptoms.