The liver is one of our most important organs- it has many different functions in the daily workings of your body 123d 디자인. It helps with digestion, detoxifies your blood, stores nutrients, produces proteins and is essential in keeping your immune system working and quite a bit more!It’s not surprising, then, that you can feel very ill when it’s not working properly!
Hepatitis A is one of the diseases that can affect your liver- it is a viral infection that is easily spread from person to person and can make you very ill. Luckily, it usually has no lasting effects on your liver once you’ve recovered. Hepatitis simply means inflammation of the liver, and the A refers to the name of the virus that causes the infection. You may also have heard of Hepatitis B and C, these are 2 other common viruses that can attack the liver but are much more serious with long term effects.
How do I protect myself?
The Hepatitis virus hides in the infected person’s stool. If they don’t wash their hands properly, they can spread this virus by direct contact, or through food/ water that came in contact with them.
This is why personal hygiene is so important! You can protect yourself by washing your hands after using public toilets/ being in public places, washing your food and making sure your water is clean and safe (by boiling, if you are unsure)..
What are the symptoms of Hepatitis A?
Like all viral illnesses you will start off feeling like you have the flu- body aches, fever, poor appetite, tiredness and generally unwell.
Following this, further symptoms develop:
- Dark urine
- Pale stool
- Your skin/ eyes may appear yellow
- Pain in the area of the liver (under your ribs on the right)
- Nausea and unable to eat
- You may also get very itchy
It is interesting to know that not everyone will develop symptoms- so you may have had the infection but not even know it!
How long will I feel ill for?
This can be for a few weeks, up to months depending on how bad the infection is. It is very uncommon, but sometimes the virus can cause liver failure, leading to death. Mostly, though, you’ll recover with no lasting symptoms within a month.
How do I get treated?
Treatment is supportive. This means we can only help your body fight the virus, but we cannot get rid of the infection with medication.
Ways we support your body, are:
- Rest, staying home from work/ school (also to prevent passing the infection on to others),
- Medication for nausea
- Drinking enough water to keep your body hydrated
You will also need to look after your liver for a good few months after an infection, so this will mean no alcohol for at least 6 months. It’s also important to let your doctor know if you have had Hepatitis A : there are some medication you should avoid for some time.
Close family contacts will need to get passive immunisation if they are not already immune to Hepatitis A- this is in the form of an injection.
Can this be prevented?
Yes! There is a vaccine that you can have that will prevent you getting this infection. Most government vaccination schedules do not include it but you can ask your GP about getting the vaccine, especially those at high risk of infection-
- children from 12 months,
- men who have sex with men,
- people who travel to countries where Hepatitis A is very prevalent,
- people using illegal drugs
- and people who already have liver conditions (such as cirrhosis)
Author: Dy Lynelle Hoeks