Hepatitis A

Hepatitis A is a liver disease caused by infection with a particular virus. Hepatitis simply means inflammation. Inflammation is the red swelling that occurs when tissues in the body get injured or infected. When tissue is swollen it can be quite painful around the area where the inflammation has occured. This can make organs not work properly. The liver gets inflamed when it is affected by a virus, and this virus is... Hepatitis A. Hepatitis A occurs in many developing countries:

Spread of Hepatitis A:
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When the liver is infected it can cause many problems for the body; the liver has a very important role in the digestive system and circulatory system:
  • The liver removes harmful substances from your blood.
  • It fights infection
  • It helps digest food
  • It stores nutrients and vitamins
  • It stores energy
You can not live without a liver

Hepatitis A virus causes an infalmmation of the liver, which is called Hepatitis A. A virus is a germ that can cause sickness. Viruses can be passed from one person to another, so Hepatitis A is contagious.
This is what the Hepatitis A virus looks like under an electron microscope:

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Everyone can get Hepatitis A but some people are at higher risk:
  • people who travel to developing countries
  • people who live with someone who has hepatitis A
  • people who use illegal drugs, including noninjection drugs
  • men who have sexual intercourse with men
You can also get Hepatitis A by coming into contact with an infected person's stool:
  • eating food made by an infected person who didn’t wash his or her hands after using the bathroom
  • drinking untreated water or eating food washed in untreated water
  • placing a finger or object in your mouth that came into contact with an infected person’s stool
  • having close personal contact with an infected person, such as through sex or caring for someone who is ill
However you cannot get Hepatitis A from an infected person sneezing on you, sitting next to an infected person or hugging an infected person.

Hepatitis A normally gets better in few weeks time without any treatment, but you would need quite a bit of rest and you should avoid drinking alcohol. Your doctor might prescribe some medicine to treat the symptoms, or tell you what drugs not to take. After catching Hepatitis A once you can not get it again as (if you are alive) your body has learnt to fight the virus.

The symptoms for Hepatitis A are a bit like flu symptoms:
  • tiredness
  • upset stomach
  • fever
  • loss of appetite
  • stomach pain
  • diarrhea
  • dark yellow urine
  • light-colored stools
  • yellowish eyes and skin, called jaundice
This is a person with 'Jaundiced' /'yellow' eyes

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You can get a vaccine for Hepatitis A.

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A vaccine is an attenuated strain of the virus so your body learns how to fight the virus without actually falling ill.
The Hepatitis A vaccine is actually given through two shots. The second one comes 6-12 months after the first injection.

By following the steps below you can avoid Hepatitis A:
  • Washing your hands after going to the toilet or coming from outdoors.
  • Eating well cooked food.
  • Drinking potable water.

attenuated strain means an inactive form of the virus that is unable to cause infection but stimulates the immune system so that your body can fight it if you get it later on in life.