Hepatitis A Definition, Causes and Symptoms, Treatment, Prevention

Hepatitis A, Definition, Causes and Symptoms, Treatment, Prevention

Definition of Hepatitis A

Hepatitis A is an inflammation of the liver organ caused by hepatitis A virus infection. This infection that interferes with the work of the liver can be easily transmitted through food or drink contaminated with the virus.

Hepatitis A is rarely fatal, but in rare cases, this condition can cause liver failure. While in pregnant women, hepatitis A can trigger premature birth and liver damage in the baby.

Symptoms and Risk Factors of Hepatitis A

Symptoms of hepatitis A appear a few weeks after the virus enters the body. Complaints arising from hepatitis A include jaundice, fever, weakness, as well as nausea and vomiting.

A person is more at risk of contracting hepatitis A if he visits or lives in an area where there are many cases of hepatitis A. People who have sexual contact with hepatitis A sufferers can also be affected by the same disease.

Treatment and Prevention of Hepatitis A

Hepatitis A will heal on its own because the patient’s immune system will kill the virus. The treatment given is only to alleviate the symptoms while waiting for the disease to heal.

While the way to prevent hepatitis A is to undergo hepatitis A vaccination, take care of personal hygiene and the environment, and make sure that the food and drinks you drink are properly cooked.

Causes of Hepatitis A

Hepatitis A is caused by the hepatitis A virus. This virus is spread through food or drink that has been contaminated by feces of people with hepatitis A. This can happen if personal and environmental hygiene is not maintained.

A number of conditions that can put a person at risk of contracting the hepatitis A virus are:

  • Eating raw or undercooked food
  • Sharing food or cutlery with many people
  • Living in a dirty environment and lack of clean water
  • Direct contact with people with hepatitis A
  • Having sex with people with hepatitis A

Hepatitis A Risk Factors

There are a number of factors that can increase a person’s risk of being infected with hepatitis A, namely:

  • Living with someone with hepatitis A
  • Suffering from HIV/AIDS or a blood clotting disorder
  • Traveling to areas where there are many cases of hepatitis A
  • Work in areas that are easily contaminated, such as cleaning staff or toilet cleaners
  • Abusing drugs in any form

Symptoms of Hepatitis A

Symptoms of hepatitis A generally only appear when the virus has been in the body for several weeks. Please note that not all people with hepatitis A will experience symptoms.

Some of the symptoms that can be experienced by people with hepatitis A are:

  • Dark urine
  • Pale stools
  • Weak
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Pain in the upper abdomen
  • Loss of appetite
  • Weight loss
  • Itchy skin
  • Jaundice (jaundice)

The above symptoms can be mild and go away within a few weeks. However, sometimes symptoms can worsen and last for several months.

When to go to the doctor

Immediately consult a doctor if you experience symptoms of jaundice, dark urine or pale stools. This condition can signal hepatitis A.

Nausea, vomiting, and lack of appetite that lasts a long time are at risk of causing dehydration and nutritional deficiencies. If there is absolutely no food and drink that can be consumed, the patient needs to be hospitalized and given an IV, so that the fluid and nutritional needs are fulfilled.

Diagnosis Hepatitis A

As a first step to diagnosing hepatitis A, the doctor will ask the patient’s symptoms and previous illnesses. The doctor will also ask about the patient’s family medical history.

Doctors can suspect a patient has hepatitis A if there are signs of jaundice. In these conditions, the doctor will suggest a blood test. Its purpose is to check liver function and detect the presence of antibodies associated with the hepatitis A virus.

Doctors may also perform additional tests, such as a blood cell count, abdominal ultrasound, and antibody tests against hepatitis B or hepatitis C, to find out if the patient’s jaundice is caused by another condition.

Hepatitis A Treatment

Hepatitis A treatment only aims to relieve the patient’s symptoms. Antiviral drugs are not needed, because the immune system will kill the hepatitis A virus.

To relieve symptoms, the doctor will ask the patient to:

  • Complete rest
  • Drink water often to maintain adequate body fluids
  • Keep eating even if your appetite decreases
  • Eat small portions to prevent nausea and vomiting
  • Avoid consumption of alcoholic beverages
  • Take a cold shower and wear loose clothing to reduce itching

It is important to remember, first consult with your doctor before you want to take drugs, even though these drugs are sold over the counter without a doctor’s prescription. Drugs taken without a doctor’s recommendation have the risk of worsening liver function disorders suffered by patients.

Meanwhile, in patients who have never received the hepatitis A vaccine, doctors will perform post-exposure prophylaxis (PEP) therapy, namely by giving a hepatitis A vaccine, or immunoglobulin to form immunity against the hepatitis A virus.

People who have recovered from hepatitis A will be immune to this disease so they are less likely to get hepatitis A again. However, in rare cases, hepatitis A symptoms may go away – appearing for 6 months until the patient is fully recovered.

Complications of Hepatitis A

Hepatitis A infection does not cause long-term (chronic) liver disease and is rarely fatal. However, in rare cases, hepatitis A can cause sudden liver failure.

Complications of liver failure due to hepatitis A generally occur in elderly patients or those who have previously had chronic liver disease. In this condition, the patient must undergo treatment in the hospital, possibly even requiring donor action or a liver transplant.

In pregnant women, hepatitis A is at risk of causing premature birth, premature rupture of membranes, and placental abruption. In fact, in rare cases, the hepatitis A virus can also cause liver damage to the unborn baby.

Hepatitis A Prevention

The main step in preventing hepatitis A is to get vaccinated against hepatitis A. This vaccine is recommended for those who are at high risk of developing hepatitis A, for example:

  • Cleaning service worker
  • Toilet cleaner
  • People who are sexually active
  • Patients with chronic liver disease

hepatitis A vaccination is not included in the mandatory immunization. This vaccine can be given between the ages of 2-18 years twice with an interval of 6-12 months.

Hepatitis A can also be prevented by maintaining cleanliness, namely through the following efforts:

  • Wash hands with running water and soap regularly, especially before eating, before handling food, and after using the toilet
  • Do not share the use of personal items, such as toothbrushes or towels, including eating utensils
  • Always cook food until done and boil water until it boils

If you have hepatitis A, take the following steps to prevent spreading the infection to others:

  • Do not have sex until completely healed
  • Don’t mix washed clothes with other people’s laundry
  • Not preparing food for others

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