Key Points about Hepatitis A

  • Hepatitis A is a liver infection caused by a virus.
  • Your specialist can diagnose hepatitis A with a blood test.
  • There is no specific treatment for hepatitis A, and your body should get rid of the virus within a few weeks to a few months.


Hepatitis A is a liver infection caused by the hepatitis A virus. Hepatitis A is very contagious and affects your liver’s ability to function correctly. If caught early, most people with hepatitis A recover completely and do not suffer permanent damage.

Hepatitis A causes

Being infected with the hepatitis A virus causes Hepatitis A. The most common way the virus spreads is through coming in contact with infected fecal matter, even tiny amounts.

The hepatitis A virus does not spread through coughing or sneezing. These are some of the ways that hepatitis A spreads:

  • Drinking water contaminated with the virus
  • Eating food handled by someone with the hepatitis A virus and who didn’t properly wash his or her hands after using the bathroom
  • Eating raw shellfish from water polluted with sewage
  • Having sexual contact with someone who has the virus

Hepatitis A risk factors

The following factors can increase your risk of developing hepatitis A:

  • Being a male who has sexual contact with other males
  • Being HIV positive
  • Being homeless
  • Having hemophilia, a blood-clotting condition
  • Having sexual contact with someone with the virus
  • Living with a person who has the virus
  • Traveling to or working in areas of the world where hepatitis A occurs frequently
  • Using any type of illicit drug by any method (not just injected drugs)
  • Working in a child care center

Hepatitis A symptoms

Signs and symptoms of hepatitis A typically appear a few weeks after you’ve contracted the virus, and include:

  • Abdominal pain, especially on your upper right side right below your ribs (where your liver is located)
  • Dark-colored urine
  • Decreased appetite
  • Fatigue
  • Intense itching
  • Jaundice (yellowing of the skin and eyes)
  • Joint pain
  • Low-grade fever
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Stool that is clay-colored

Hepatitis A diagnosis

Diagnosing hepatitis A involves blood tests that check for signs of the hepatitis A virus.

Hepatitis A treatment

There is no specific treatment for hepatitis A. Your body will get rid of the virus on its own, and any liver damage will heal within six months. While your body is healing, you should get plenty of rest, drink liquids and avoid alcohol. Ask your doctor about whether you should continue taking your current medications while your body heals from hepatitis A.

When should I seek care?

If you experience any of these symptoms, start by voicing your concerns and symptoms to your primary care provider. From there, your doctor may suggest seeing a liver specialist for more specialized treatment.

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