Acute hepatitis A is a sudden liver infection caused by a hepatitis virus IH or A. The virus is transmitted by direct contact, as well as with contaminated food and water.
In the initial stages of infection, symptoms similar to flu appear – elevated temperature, general feeling of pain and weakness. It is also possible to have nausea, lack of appetite, and painful sensitivity to the upper abdomen.
After a few days, as the symptoms decrease, a jaundice may occur, as the inflammatory liver can not remove the pigment – bilirubin – from the blood. After two to three weeks, the jaundice and other symptoms gradually disappear, although many patients feel depression and weakness for several weeks and even months afterwards.
In Croatia, IH shows an endemic character: approximately 5200 patients are registered annually. Since the disease can easily be mistaken with flu – if there is no jaundice – many cases of this disease are not discovered. In less developed parts of the world hepatitis A is a common disease, and is spreading due to poor sewerage and contaminated food or water.
What to do?
Practically, all patients are fully recovered, although recovery sometimes lasts for many weeks or months, and seizures may occasionally be repeated for a year. If you notice flu-like symptoms and then jaundice, contact your doctor immediately. As he examines you and finds out all the information he needs, your doctor will most likely take a blood sample for laboratory analysis, that is, to determine the cause of the virus. Initial symptoms of hepatitis A resemble symptoms of more serious illness – acute hepatitis B.
Self-help: acute hepatitis A causes exceptional weakness and disables the patient. Rest or stay in bed as long as you feel weak. Avoid abundant, fatty meals. Do not drink alcoholic beverages for at least six months, as they may prolong the disease or cause a recurrence. To prevent the spreading of the infection, you should have special dishes, cutlery and towels; preferably, you should also use a special toilet (with thorough disinfection) and wash basin. These precautions are important because the patient may be a source of infection for weeks or months.
Professional help: antibiotics do not work on viral infections, so the doctor does not have much resources to help you. If you have not had any illness, but have been in contact with a person who (later) got sick or if you plan to travel to a country where this disease is common, your doctor may give you the injection of gamaglobulin and thereby increase the body’s resistance to infection for a period of up to six months .