Back to Previous Page

Hepatitis A

(Hep A)

Definition

Hepatitis A is an infection of the liver. It can be passed easily from contaminated food, water, or close contact with an infected person.
Hepatitis
IMAGE
Copyright © Nucleus Medical Media, Inc.

Causes

Hepatitis A is caused by a specific virus. It may be spread by:
Hepatitis A is present in stool of people with the infection. They can spread the infection if they do not wash their hands after using the bathroom and touch other objects or food.

Risk Factors

Factors that increase your chance of a hepatitis A infection include:

Symptoms

Hepatitis A does not always cause symptoms. Adults are more likely to have them than children.
Symptoms include:

Diagnosis

The doctor will ask about your symptoms and medical history. A physical exam will be done.
Tests may include:

Treatment

Hepatitis A usually goes away on its own within two months. There are no lasting effects in most once the infection passes.
The goals of hepatitis A treatments are to:
You will be immune to the virus once you are well.
In rare cases, the infection is very severe. A liver transplant may be needed in these cases if the liver is severely damaged.

Prevention

To decrease your chance of hepatitis A:
Medical treatments that may help prevent infection include:
Check with your doctor to see if you should receive the vaccine.

RESOURCES

American Liver Foundation http://www.liverfoundation.org

Hepatitis Foundation International http://www.hepfi.org

CANADIAN RESOURCES

Canadian Institute for Health Information http://www.cihi.ca

Canadian Liver Foundation http://www.liver.ca

References

Baker CJ, Pickerling LK, et al; Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices. Recommended adult immunization schedule: United States, 2011. Ann Intern Med. 2011;154(3):168-173.

Hepatitis A. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed/what. Updated December 19, 2012. Accessed February 20, 2013.

Hepatitis A FAQs for the Public. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website. Available at: http://www.cdc.gov/hepatitis/A/aFAQ.htm#overview. Updated September 17, 2009. Accessed February 20, 2013.

Hepatitis A vaccine. What you need to know. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website. Available at: http://www.cdc.gov/vaccines/pubs/vis/downloads/vis-hep-a.pdf. Accessed February 20, 2012.

What I need to know about hepatitis A. National Digestive Diseases Information Clearinghouse website. Available at: http://digestive.niddk.nih.gov/ddiseases/pubs/hepa%5Fez/index.aspx. Updated December 19, 2012. Accessed February 20, 2013.

Workowski KA, Berman S, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Sexually Transmitted Diseases Treatment Guidelines, 2010. MMWR. 2010;59(No. RR-12):1-110.

9/25/2009 DynaMed's Systematic Literature Surveillance. http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed/what.php: Updated recommendations from the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) for use of hepatitis A vaccine in close contacts of newly arriving international adoptees. MMWR Morb Mortal Wkly Rep. 2009;58:1006.

Revision Information