Please contact Freephone (0818) 000365.
Dr. Louise Geary has retired.
What is Hepatitis A?
Hepatitis A is a virus, or an infection, that causes liver disease and inflammation (of the liver). Viruses can cause diseases. For example, the flu is caused by a virus. It is possible for people to spread the viruses from one to the other. Inflammation is a swelling that occurs when body tissues are injured or infected. It is possible that the inflammation causes that the organs do not work of correct way.
What is the liver?
The liver is an organ that does many important things. It is not possible to live without the liver. The liver:
- Removes harmful chemicals from the blood
- Fights against infections
- Helps digest food stores nutrients and vitamins
- Stores energy
Who gets hepatitis A?
Anyone can get hepatitis A, but the most likely people are those who:
- Travel to developing countries·
- Live with someone who currently has an active hepatitis A infection·
- Use illicit drugs, including non-injectable drugs·
- Have unprotected sex with an infected person·
- Take care of children
- Men who have sex with men are also more likely to get hepatitis A.
How can I get hepatitis A?
A person could get hepatitis A through contact with the stool of an infected person. This contact could also occur if:
- Eat meals made by an infected person
- Who did not wash their hands after using the bathroom
- Drink non-potable water or eat foods that were washed with non-potable water
- If you touch your mouth with your finger or with an object that was in contact with the stool of an infected person
- Has direct physical contact with an infected person, either through sexual intercourse or if caring for someone who is sick.
You can not get hepatitis A if:
- An infected person coughs or sneezes near you
- Sits next to an infected person
- Hugs an infected person
- A baby can not get hepatitis A through breast milk
What are the symptoms of hepatitis A?
Most people do not have symptoms of hepatitis A. If there were any symptoms, they would include:
- Feeling tired
- Muscle pain
- Stomach ache
- Loss of appetite
- Dark yellow urine
- Light colored stool
- Yellow eyes and skin, called jaundice
The symptoms of hepatitis A can occur between 2 and 7 weeks after coming into contact with the virus. Children under 6 years of age may not have symptoms. Adults and older children often have mild symptoms similar to those of the flu. Consult a doctor immediately if you or a child in your care has symptoms of hepatitis A.
How is hepatitis A diagnosed?
A blood test will show if a person has hepatitis A. Blood tests are done in a doctor’s office or outpatient clinic. A blood sample is taken using a needle that is inserted into a vein in the arm or hand. The blood sample is sent to a laboratory for the detection of hepatitis A.
How is hepatitis A treated?
Hepatitis A usually improves in a few weeks without treatment. However, some people may have symptoms for up to 6 months. Your doctor may suggest medications to help relieve symptoms. Talk to your doctor before taking prescription and over-the-counter medications.
Check with your doctor regularly to make sure your body has fully recovered. If the symptoms persist after 6 months, then you should visit your doctor again.
When you recover, your body will have learned to fight a future hepatitis A infection. However, you can get other types of hepatitis.
How can I avoid getting hepatitis A?
You can avoid getting hepatitis A by getting the hepatitis A vaccine.
Vaccines are medicines that keep you from getting sick. Vaccines teach the body to attack specific viruses and infections. The hepatitis A vaccine teaches the body to attack the hepatitis A virus.
The hepatitis A vaccine is given in two injectable doses. The second injection is placed between 6 and 12 months after the first injection. The two injections of the hepatitis A vaccine must be placed to be fully protected.
All children between 12 and 23 months of age should be vaccinated. Check with your child’s doctor about the hepatitis A vaccine.
Adults who are at increased risk of getting hepatitis A and those who have chronic liver disease should also be vaccinated.
If you travel to countries where hepatitis A is common, including Mexico, try to get both injections before traveling. If you do not have time to put both injections before traveling, put the first injection as soon as possible. Most people are somewhat protected within 2 weeks after the first injection.
You can also protect yourself and others from hepatitis A if:
- Always wash your hands with warm water and soap after using the bathroom or changing diapers and before preparing food or eating
- Uses bottled water to drink, make ice, and wash fruits and vegetables when in a developing country
- Tells your doctor and dentist if you have hepatitis A.
What should I do if I think I have been in contact with the hepatitis A virus?
Consult your doctor immediately if you think you have been in contact with the hepatitis A virus. A dose of the hepatitis A vaccine taken with a medicine called immunoglobulin against hepatitis A may protect you from getting sick if you take it shortly after having been in contact with the hepatitis A virus.
Food, diet, and nutrition
If you have hepatitis A, you should take steps to take care of yourself, which includes eating a healthy diet. Avoid drinking alcohol, which can damage the liver. Contact your doctor before taking vitamins and other supplements.
Points to remember:
- Hepatitis A is a virus, or an infection, that causes liver disease and inflammation.
- Anyone can get hepatitis A, but some people are more prone than others.
- A person could get hepatitis A through contact with the stool of an infected person.
- Most people do not have symptoms of hepatitis A.
- Children under 6 years of age may not have symptoms of hepatitis A.
- Hepatitis A can cause mild flu-like symptoms in adults and older children.
- Consult a doctor immediately if you or a child in your care has symptoms of hepatitis A.
- A blood test will show if you have hepatitis A.
- Hepatitis A usually improves in a few weeks without treatment.
- You can avoid getting hepatitis A by getting the hepatitis A vaccine.
- Tell your doctor and dentist if you have hepatitis A.
- Consult your doctor immediately if you think you have been in contact with the hepatitis A virus.
Express Medical was set up by Dr Louise Geary to provide a friendly, convenient and affordable medical practice. The services are run by skilled and experienced healthcare professionals.
Mon to Fri - 10 am to 7 pm
Closed for Lunch - 2 pm to 3pm
Weekends - Closed
St.Patricks Woollen Mills,
021 4360100 /
Freephone 0818000365 and dial 5
021 436 0089