Hepatitis A is relatively common because this inflammation of the liver affects everyone and can affect anyone. Travelers are particularly at risk. One can be vaccinated against this contagious viral disease and one can try to avoid it through hygienic measures. Hepatitis A is characterized by jaundice and liver inflammation. She is being treated in the hospital on infection wards. With proper treatment, hepatitis A usually heals without any problems.
What is hepatitis A?
According to ABBREVIATIONFINDER.ORG, hepatitis A is a global and widespread contagious disease. Every year, millions of people worldwide contract this infectious viral hepatitis.
There are different ways of getting infected with hepatitis A. Normally, hepatitis A is curable and, with timely and consistent treatment, does not leave any serious damage.
However, infection with hepatitis A is also avoidable, namely through appropriate vaccination protection, which is only paid for by health insurance companies in certain cases.
Like all viral hepatitis diseases, hepatitis A is caused by a virus from the Picornaviridae strain. In contrast to the equally widespread viral diseases hepatitis B and hepatitis C, hepatitis A is much easier to contract. Contaminated mussels, smear infections, but also sexual contact are the main sources of infection with this type of jaundice.
Infection can occur, for example, through the consumption of food, the use of contaminated water, or directly from person to person. Poor hygienic conditions play a major role in the transmission of the virus. Children and the elderly as well as people with weakened immune systems are particularly at risk.
In many cases, however, the exact transmission paths can no longer be traced at all. Hepatitis A occurs more frequently in the southern hemisphere, with downright pandemics occurring annually in some regions of Asia and Africa. This means that in whole areas people are getting sick in rows.
But people in Central, Southern and Eastern Europe are also becoming ill with hepatitis A. This infectious disease is also found in the Scandinavian countries, although it is remarkably rare there.
Symptoms, Ailments & Signs
Hepatitis A is often asymptomatic, especially in children. Symptoms can occur in adults, which are initially noticeable as non-specific symptoms in the initial phase. These include, among other things, a slight increase in temperature, nausea, vomiting, loss of appetite, poor performance and sometimes slight pressure pain in the upper right abdomen. After about two weeks, the symptoms of jaundice can appear.
This causes yellowing of the skin and eyes. The stool discolors and becomes whitish to clay-colored. At the same time, the urine turns dark due to the increased excretion of bilirubin. The disease usually heals on its own after a few weeks. A chronic course has not been observed so far. In the majority of cases, the symptoms remain very mild.
Asymptomatic courses occur not only in children, but also more rarely in adults. Jaundice does not occur in two-thirds of patients. This mainly affects children. The likelihood of jaundice increases with the age of the patient. In very rare cases, however, serious illnesses are also possible.
This is particularly the case if the liver has already been damaged or if the immune system is severely weakened. In the case of a fulminant course of the disease, even death is possible. The extremely rare course of the disease also includes the potentially fatal agranulocytosis, which is characterized by an acute breakdown of the stem cells in the bone marrow.
The person infected with the hepatitis A virus will usually become ill after ten days to eight weeks. Affected patients show symptoms such as vomiting, abdominal pain and fever. They usually also develop jaundice, the so-called icterus.
The eyeballs are discolored yellow, the stool is very light and the patient’s urine is very dark. People infected with hepatitis A are treated in the hospital infection ward because they are contagious for up to two weeks in the acute stage.
Hepatitis A can be harmless. The disease heals completely spontaneously and the affected person then acquires immunity to the virus so that hepatitis A is no longer affected. A chronic course of hepatitis A has not yet been observed. In the rarest, but also the most serious cases, liver failure can occur due to hepatitis A.
As a result, the liver is no longer able to carry out the important biochemical processes, so that the body then lacks many proteins and the detoxification function also fails. As a result, edema can develop or coagulation no longer works properly. The cell toxin ammonia, for example, can also pass into the brain, resulting in hepatic encephalopathy.
Hepatitis A is also contagious. Travelers who contract the virus abroad can transmit the virus fecal-orally in their homeland, leading to a local outbreak. Normally, the disease heals quickly in 90 percent of cases, and the disease can last up to twelve months in only ten percent. The number of infections and deaths from hepatitis A increases with age.
When should you go to the doctor?
Hepatitis A is a serious disease that can, in the worst case, lead to death. For this reason, a doctor must be consulted immediately at the first sign of hepatitis A in order to avoid further complications. The disease is characterized by jaundice and severe fatigue. Tiredness and weakness cannot be counteracted with the help of sleep. Severe headaches and loss of appetite also indicate hepatitis A and must be examined.
Abdominal pain is also common, usually accompanied by fever. Hepatitis A can cause the urine to turn dark. The doctor should be consulted as soon as jaundice occurs. Immediate treatment is necessary, especially after staying in affected areas. Diagnosis and treatment can be done in a hospital or by a general practitioner. Since the disease is contagious, however, those affected must always be admitted to an infection ward.
Treatment & Therapy
As with any liver disease, the patient with hepatitis A must remain in bed or at least rest physically. The doctor makes the definitive diagnosis based on blood tests that detect the virus. Depending on the level of the viral load, a more or less pronounced clinical picture appears. In the blood, the doctor determines elevated bilirubin levels in addition to other liver values.
The erythrocyte sedimentation rate is also increased, which indicates the inflammation of the liver cells. Strengthening infusions are administered to the patient, depending on their general condition. After possible food abstinence, the slow build-up with liver-friendly food follows.
Hepatitis A is only difficult to treat in rare cases, for example if there is another infection with hepatitis B or C. Here, additional and long-term treatment is required, if necessary with a combination therapy of interferon and ribavirin.
Outlook & Forecast
Hepatitis A has a good prognosis. The disease heals completely with medical care of the patient. A chronic course of the disease can be ruled out in hepatitis A. The peculiarity of the disease is lifelong immunity to the pathogen. A recurrence or a recurrence of the disease are therefore excluded. The healing process usually takes several months. The patient should be on strict bed rest for a good prognosis.
Delays or complications occur when drinking alcohol or taking harmful medication. These can lead to destruction of the liver tissue and trigger functional disorders of the organ. In rare cases of hepatitis A disease, a liver transplant is necessary.
The mortality rate is low, about one to two percent of patients. With increasing age, the probability of a fatal course of the disease increases. For people over the age of 50, it is three percent. Without medical treatment and compliance with rest, the risk of permanent liver damage increases. The patient’s condition worsens and a fatal outcome becomes more likely.
Alternative cures are not recommended for hepatitis A. The best way to fight the virus is with medication and rest.
Hepatitis A is preferably avoided by preventive vaccinations. A combination of active ingredients against hepatitis A and B is usually administered. This vaccination must be given several times as instructed by the treating doctor or vaccination center. When traveling to African, South American and Asian countries, it is definitely advisable to have these vaccinations carried out if the doctor does not say otherwise.
People suffering from chronic hepatitis C should also be vaccinated against hepatitis A and B to avoid complications.
If there is no vaccination protection, you should at least exercise the necessary caution. Above all, this includes very careful hygiene and responsible handling of the food offered in exotic holiday countries. Raw food and mussels should not be eaten at all, fruit should only be eaten peeled. Drinks should only be taken from unopened bottles, ice cream and desserts should be avoided. Vaccination and hygiene therefore largely protect against hepatitis A.
There is no specific treatment for hepatitis A. Recovery from symptoms after infection can be slow, lasting several weeks or even a few months. The focus here is on avoiding unnecessary medication. Acetaminophen or paracetamol and other anti-vomiting medications should not be given.
Hospitalization is unnecessary unless acute liver failure is present. Therapy is aimed at maintaining well-being and adequate nutrient balance, including replacing fluids lost from vomiting and diarrhea. Improved sanitation, food safety, and vaccination are the most effective ways to combat hepatitis A.
The spread of hepatitis A can be contained through a proper supply of clean or purified drinking water, legal disposal of urban sewage, and personal hygiene measures such as washing hands regularly with clean water.
Several injectable inactivated hepatitis A vaccines are available internationally. We seem quite similar when it comes to how well they protect each individual from the virus and its side effects. No vaccine is approved for children under the age of one. The vaccine is given by injection. An initial dose provides protection for a year starting two to four weeks after vaccination; the second booster dose, given six to 12 months later, provides protection for over 20 years.
You can do that yourself
If an infection with hepatitis A has been diagnosed, rest and rest apply. Those affected should ensure a healthy and balanced diet and avoid alcohol. Anyone who regularly takes medication that puts a strain on the liver should change their medication in consultation with their doctor. The liver can also be relieved by avoiding very greasy foods and luxury foods.
Natural healing and homeopathic measures can be used to support this: milk thistle to improve liver values, shiatsu applications to promote relaxation or ozone autologous blood treatment to eliminate toxins. Friends and relatives of sick people should also be vaccinated against hepatitis A immediately.
Comprehensive hygiene measures such as regular hand washing, cleanliness when preparing food, separate towels and, if possible, separate toilets are also important. If the sufferer needs assistance with personal hygiene, disposable gloves and disinfectant soap should be used.
The patient’s laundry should always be washed hot and stored separately. The doctor in charge can provide further tips and assistance on how people around the affected person can protect themselves from becoming infected with hepatitis A.