According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the number of hepatitis A cases in the United States has increased significantly over the past few years, with 12,474 total cases reported in 2018 alone. The numbers could be higher – possibly closer to 24,900 cases – as there are people who have the disease but do not develop symptoms and therefore do not get properly diagnosed.
In this blog, you’ll learn more about hepatitis A, specifically its symptoms as well as how it’s diagnosed and treated.
Hepatitis A and Its Symptoms
Hepatitis A is an acute viral disease that causes inflammation of the liver, the body’s detoxification organ that also regulates metabolic processes and plays a key role in nutrient absorption and utilization.
There are number of ways you can catch the disease. These include being in close contact with an infected person; through oral/anal sex; and eating food contaminated with even small amounts of fecal matter.
Although self-limiting and usually causes no permanent liver damage, hepatitis A is highly contagious.
Hepatitis A can affect both children and adults, although the latter usually appear much sicker (and more jaundiced). When you have hepatitis A, you usually feel some of the following symptoms:
- Abdominal pain
- Poor appetite and weight loss
- Nausea and vomiting
- Jaundice, or yellowing of the skin and the eyes
- Clay-colored stools
- Dark urine
Diagnosis and Treatment
If you think you might have hepatitis A, the first step is to see your doctor. Your doctor will ask about your symptoms and do a physical exam. They may also order a blood test to check for hepatitis A antibodies to confirm a diagnosis.
Since hepatitis A is a viral disease, goal of treatment is simply to control the symptoms and keep the patient comfortable until the virus goes away. Your GI doctor will likely recommend that you do the following:
- Drink plenty of fluids, particularly if there has been a lot of vomiting or diarrhea
- Take stomach-soothing medication
- Avoid acetaminophen or other drugs that place extra stress on the liver
Hepatitis A Treatment Near Me in Austin, TX
At Austin Gastroenterology, our extensive group of highly qualified gastroenterologists provides excellent medical care for the full range of digestive and liver conditions – including all types of hepatitis. We also take pleasure in sharing useful information to empower our patients to make the wisest decisions about their digestive health and care.
To arrange a consultation with one of our gastroenterologists, please call us at our office near you. You may also submit an appointment request for an in-person or telehealth visit right here on our website. We look forward to serving you at one of our offices in the greater Austin, Texas area!