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.
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 signs and symptoms. You may need to:
- Rest. Many people with hepatitis A infection feel tired and sick and have less energy.
- Manage nausea. 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 if vomiting 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 more liver damage. Talk to your doctor about all the medications you take, including over-the-counter drugs.
Lifestyle and home remedies
You can take steps to reduce the risk of passing hepatitis A 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 doctor or local health department if you should have the hepatitis A vaccine to prevent infection.
If you have signs and symptoms of hepatitis A, make an appointment with your family doctor or a primary doctor.
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 well-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.
- Write down your symptoms. Include those that seem unrelated to the reason for your appointment.
- Write down key personal information, including major stresses or recent life changes.
- List medications, vitamins and supplements you take.
- Consider taking a family member or friend along. Someone who accompanies you may remember something that you missed or forgot.
- Write down questions to ask your doctor.
Listing questions for your doctor can help you make the most of your time together. For hepatitis A infection, some basic questions to ask your doctor 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 doctor is likely to ask you a number of questions, including:
- 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?
March 06, 2019
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- 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;67:43.
- 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;68:6.
- Hepatitis A questions and answers for the public. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. https://www.cdc.gov/hepatitis/hav/afaq.htm#E2. Accessed Feb. 22, 2019.
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