Hepatitis A is a liver disease. Hepatitis means inflammation of the liver. Inflammation is the painful, red swelling that results when tissues of the body become injured or infected. Inflammation can cause organs to not work properly. Hepatitis A is diagnosed and treated by the GI Division of Premier Medical Group.
The liver is an organ that does many important things. Hepatitis A is a liver disease.
You cannot live without a liver.
The hepatitis A virus causes hepatitis A. Viruses are germs that can cause sickness. For example, the flu is caused by a virus. People can pass viruses to each other.
Anyone can get hepatitis A, but some people are at higher risk, including
You could get hepatitis A through contact with an infected person’s stool.
You could get hepatitis A from
You cannot get hepatitis A from
Children younger than age 6 often have no symptoms. Older children and adults often get mild, flulike symptoms, including
Blood tests will show if you have hepatitis A or another type of hepatitis.
Hepatitis A usually gets better in a few weeks without treatment. Get lots of rest and avoid drinking alcohol, which bothers the liver. Your doctor may suggest medicines to help relieve your symptoms, or medicines you may want to avoid. If symptoms persist, especially if you are an older person, then you should see a doctor again.
When you recover, your body will have learned to fight off a future hepatitis A infection. However, you can still get other kinds of hepatitis.
You can avoid getting hepatitis A by getting the hepatitis A vaccine.
Vaccines are medicines that keep you from getting sick. Vaccines teach the body to attack specific germs. The hepatitis A vaccine teaches your body to attack the hepatitis A virus.
The hepatitis A vaccine is given through two shots. The second shot is given 6 to 12 months after the first shot. Both shots are needed to be fully protected from the virus.
All children should be vaccinated and must be at least 12 months old to get the first shot. Discuss the hepatitis A vaccine with your child’s doctor.
Adults at higher risk of getting hepatitis A and people with chronic liver disease should also be vaccinated.
If you are traveling to countries where hepatitis A is common, including Mexico, try to get both shots before you go. If you don’t have time to get both shots before you travel, get the first shot as soon as possible. Most people gain some protection within 2 weeks after the first shot.
You can also protect yourself and others from hepatitis A if you
See your doctor right away if you think you have been exposed to the hepatitis A virus. A medicine called hepatitis A immune globulin may protect you from getting sick if taken shortly after exposure to the hepatitis A virus.
The National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK) supports basic and clinical research into many digestive disorders, including hepatitis A.
Participants in clinical trials can play a more active role in their own health care, gain access to new research treatments before they are widely available, and help others by contributing to medical research. For information about current studies, visit www.ClinicalTrials.gov.
Other types of hepatitis exist. The National Digestive Diseases Information Clearinghouse (NDDIC) also has booklets about hepatitis B and hepatitis C:
You can get a free copy of each booklet by calling 1–800–891–5389, by going online to www.catalog.niddk.nih.gov, or by writing to
2 Information Way
Bethesda, MD 20892–3570
Hepatitis information for health professionals is also available.
Publications produced by the Clearinghouse are carefully reviewed by both NIDDK scientists and outside experts. The individuals listed here provided editorial guidance or facilitated field-testing for the original version of this publication. The NDDIC would like to thank these individuals for their contribution.
Bruce Bacon, M.D.
American Liver Foundation
New York, NY
Theo Heller, M.D.
NIDDK, National Institutes of Health
Luby Garza-Abijaoude, M.S., R.D., L.D.
Texas Department of Health
Thelma Thiel, R.N.
Hepatitis Foundation International
Cedar Grove, NJ