Diagnosis

Blood tests are used to look for signs of the hepatitis A virus in your body. A sample of blood is taken, usually from a vein in your arm. It's sent to a laboratory for testing.

Treatment

No specific treatment exists for hepatitis A. Your body will clear the hepatitis A virus on its own. In most cases of hepatitis A, the liver heals within six months with no lasting damage.

Hepatitis A treatment usually focuses on keeping comfortable and controlling symptoms. You may need to:

  • Rest. Many people with hepatitis A feel tired and sick and have less energy.
  • Get adequate food and liquid. Eat a balanced healthy diet. Nausea can make it difficult to eat. Try snacking throughout the day rather than eating full meals. To get enough calories, eat more high-calorie foods. For instance, drink fruit juice or milk rather than water. Drinking plenty of fluids is important to prevent dehydration, especially if vomiting or diarrhea occurs.
  • Avoid alcohol and use medications with care. Your liver may have difficulty processing medications and alcohol. If you have hepatitis, don't drink alcohol. It can cause liver damage. Talk to your health care provider about all the medications you take, including medications available without a prescription.

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Lifestyle and home remedies

If you have hepatitis A, you can take steps to reduce the risk of passing the virus to others.

  • Avoid sexual activity. Avoid all sexual activity if you have hepatitis A. Many kinds of sexual activity can spread the infection to your partner. Condoms don't offer adequate protection.
  • Wash your hands thoroughly after using the toilet and changing diapers. Scrub vigorously for at least 20 seconds and rinse well. Dry your hands with a disposable towel.
  • Don't prepare food for others while you're actively infected. You can easily pass the infection to others.

Preparing for your appointment

If someone close to you is diagnosed with hepatitis A, ask your health care provider or local health department if you should have the hepatitis A vaccine to prevent infection.

If you have symptoms of hepatitis A, make an appointment with your health care provider.

What you can do

Because appointments can be brief and there's often a lot of information to cover, it's a good idea to be prepared.

  • Be aware of pre-appointment restrictions. When you make the appointment, find out if there's anything you need to do in advance, such as change your diet.
  • Make a list of your symptoms. Include those that seem unrelated to the reason for your appointment.
  • Make a list of key personal information, including major stresses or recent life changes and recent travel or possible exposure to hepatitis A.
  • Make a list of all medications, vitamins, herbs and other supplements you take, and the dosages.
  • Consider taking a family member or friend along. Someone who accompanies you may remember something that you missed or forgot.
  • Prepare a list of questions to ask your health care provider.

For hepatitis A, some basic questions to ask are:

  • What is likely causing my symptoms or condition?
  • Other than the most likely cause, what are other possible causes for my symptoms or condition?
  • If I have hepatitis A, what can I do to keep from infecting others?
  • Should people close to me receive the hepatitis A vaccine?
  • Can I continue to work or go to school while I have hepatitis A?
  • What are the signs and symptoms of serious hepatitis A complications?
  • How will I know when I can no longer spread hepatitis A to others?
  • Are there brochures or other printed material I can have? What websites do you recommend?

Don't hesitate to ask other questions you have.

What to expect from your doctor

Your health care provider is likely to ask you a number of questions, including:

  • Have you recently traveled or been exposed to someone with hepatitis A?
  • When did your symptoms begin?
  • Do you have symptoms all the time, or do they come and go?
  • How severe are your symptoms?
  • What, if anything, seems to improve your symptoms?
  • What, if anything, appears to make your symptoms worse?

Preparing and anticipating questions will help you make the most of your appointment.

Aug. 27, 2022
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  2. Hepatitis A questions and answers for the public. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. https://www.cdc.gov/hepatitis/hav/afaq.htm#overview. Accessed June 30, 2022.
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  4. Hepatitis A. World Health Organization. https://www.who.int/news-room/fact-sheets/detail/hepatitis-a. Accessed June 30, 2022.
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  6. Doshani M, et al. Recommendations of the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices for use of hepatitis A vaccine for persons experiencing homelessness. MMWR Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report. 2019; doi:10.15585/mmwr.mm6806a6.
  7. Nelson NP, et al. Update: Recommendations of the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices for use of hepatitis A vaccine for postexposure prophylaxis and for preexposure prophylaxis for international travel. MMWR. 2018; doi:10.15585/mmwr.mm6743a5.
  8. Recommended vaccinations for infants and children. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. https://www.cdc.gov/vaccines/schedules/easy-to-read/child-easyread.html. Accessed June 30, 2022.
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