There are several types of hepatitis viruses. All of them create inflammation and negatively affect liver function. Hepatitis A is very contagious and can be passed through food and water contamination. The virus also spreads from person to person when contact is made with someone who is infected.
The Centers for Disease Control report that outbreaks of hepatitis A are most common in those who experience homelessness.
People at high risk of the virus were recommended to get vaccinations in 1996. The Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices made the recommendation in order to prevent the spread of hepatitis A. People at high risk and the children who lived in high-risk communities were offered vaccinations to control the spread of the condition because of its highly contagious nature. By 2006, the ACIP began recommending that all children nationwide, regardless of risk, receive a hepatitis A vaccine. Today, outbreaks continue to occur, however primarily in adults.
In addition to the aforementioned causes, the hepatitis virus is most often spread through food and drinks, but specifically when the ingested food is contaminated with fecal matter. Therefore, it is extremely important to thoroughly wash your hands following bathroom use. Additionally, childcare workers are encouraged to wash hands carefully, especially after changing diapers or assisting a child in the bathroom.
An infected person who isn’t exhibiting symptoms associated with the hepatitis virus is still capable of passing it on.
The virus isn’t transmitted in the same way that a cold is spread, through sneezing and coughing, for instance. The disease can spread through sex with someone who has the virus or even from consuming seafood that was stored in contaminated ice or water. Caring for someone that is ill can also be an avenue for contracting the disease. Illicit drug use is also a known factor. Sharing a needle with an infected person presents a great risk.
What to Expect
Unlike other hepatitis viruses, hepatitis A is rarely fatal. In mild cases, treatment isn’t required, and the liver doesn’t incur permanent damage. It is not considered a chronic condition that the infected person will have to live with indefinitely.
However, this is not to say hepatitis A isn’t dangerous. There are symptoms associated with the virus, including inflammation of the liver, which can cause abdominal pain, nausea accompanied by vomiting, loss of appetite, and joint pain. Jaundice skin and eyes, dark colored urine, and clay colored stool are also among symptoms. Other uncomfortable symptoms are extremely itchy skin and a low-grade fever. Speak with your healthcare provider if you have any of these symptoms.
Preventing Hepatitis A
The absolute best way to prevent hepatitis A is through vaccination. The hepatitis vaccine can be administered to adults and children who are older than one year of age. Also, as previously mentioned, attention to hygiene and food safety is very important. It can’t be stressed enough that washing hands is crucial in preventing transmission.
Hepatitis A Diagnosis and Treatment in Austin, Texas
Austin Gastroenterology is accepting new patients. If you have symptoms associated with hepatitis A, we can provide you with an accurate diagnosis and quick treatment for your condition.
For your convenience, we have several locations in the Austin area. To make an appointment at one of our north offices, call (512) 244-2273, at one of our central offices, call (512) 454-4588, and at one of our south offices, call (512) 448-4588.