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Dr. Andrew Rynne
Dr. Andrew Rynne

Family Physician

Exp 50 years

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Article Home Adult and Senior Health Hepatitis A (Symptoms and Treatment)

Hepatitis A (Symptoms and Treatment)

Hepatitis A is a type of disease which primarily affects liver and is caused by the hepatitis A virus. Usually Viral Hepatitis is a alarming serious illness affecting liver but Hepatitis A is not usually as serious as other types of viral hepatitis. However, Hepatitis A leads to inflammation of the liver and impairs its functional ability to some extent.


Disease has absolute faeco-oral transmission pattern but very few cases with parenteral transmission are also reported. Boiling the water or adding chlorine or iodine effectively makes the water safe from the infection of Hepatitis A virus. The hepatitis A virus is a single-stranded, positive-sense, RNA enterovirus and belongs to Picornaviridae family. Virus multiplies exclusively in liver cells. The disease spread by person to person contact, contaminated food and water. The spread of disease by person to person contact is very high, also anyone can transmit the virus even if he or she is not sick. Some individuals who are infected will have severe symptoms while others will be quiet normal. The infection with the disease exists at both extremes. Most of the cases of hepatitis A are mild and generally don't require treatment, also recovery is complete with no permanent liver damage. Hepatitis A doesn't have chronic phase which leads to hepatitis and cirrhosis both of these conditions are life endangering. Hepatitis B and C will pass into chronic condition and will lead to more serious disease which may be fatal in some conditions. Hygiene is best way to protect against hepatitis A which includes washing clothes and hands regularly especially after suspected exposure. Vaccines are available for the prevention of the condition and are generally advisable for the people who are at high risk. Now a days due to improved awareness and Improvements in hygiene and health policies have successfully led to some reduction in illness in high-risk groups. Some success is also due to increased vaccination and passive immunization. Humans are the only reservoir for the hepatitis A virus.



Signs and Symptoms

  • Anorexia, nausea, vomiting, fatigue, malaise, myalgia, and mild headache.
  • Dark urine
  • Pale stool
  • Jaundice involves majority of adults
  • Abdominal pain
  • Pruritus or itching
  • Arthralgia and skin rash
  • Hepatomegaly

Risk Factors

  • Frequent Personal contact
  • Illicit parenteral drug usage

Diagnosis and Investigations

  • Diagnosis is made by measuring the titers of various antibodies like Anti–hepatitis A virus immunoglobulin M and Anti–hepatitis A virus immunoglobulin G
  • Increased levels of liver enzymes like AST, ALT and Alkaline Phosphatase
  • Increased bilirubin levels
  • Decreased serum Albumin levels
  • Complete Blood Count may be performed
  • Prothrombin Time may be altered 

Treatment and Medications 

  • Intravenous fluids are administered to nearly all patients to maintain a good hydration in the body
  • Antiemetics and antacids may be given as a symptomatic treatment
  • Tylenol may be prescribed in some cases
  • If patient deteriorates to fulminant hepatitis surgical liver transplantation should be considered
  • Pain may be treated with some pain killers
  • Immunoglobins are also advised to some patients