Hepatitis A – How to Prevent It
Hepatitis A is a very highly contagious infection of a person’s liver and it is caused by a virus. It isn’t considered as dangerous as other viral types of Hepatitis, but it does cause severe pain and inflammation that affects the human liver’s abilities to function properly.
The most likely way of contracting Hepatitis A is through food or water that has been in close contact with someone who has already been infected. People that are infected may appear to be normal while not knowing that they are already sick from the virus. It is said that some people don’t even develop any signs or symptoms, while others may feel like they have a severe case of the ‘flu.
Some symptoms of Hepatitis A are fatigue, nausea, dark urine, muscle pains and itching. Some people even experience their skin changing to a yellowish color, also know as “jaundice”. It is said that you can have the virus for a month or more before you even start noticing any types of symptoms. But, when they do appear, they come suddenly, which makes people feel like they are coming down with a case of the ‘flu.
Some of the likeliest ways of contracting Hepatitis A are traveling to or working in places that are at high risk, from involvement with sexually active gay men or using drugs, whether injected or non-injected . Blood transfusions can also present a risk and have been widely blamed for some cases. Some people have been known to contract the virus from working in a research type setting with the virus present.
Practicing good hygiene is one of the best ways to protect yourself, together with avoidance of high risk situations. However, the safest way to avoid contracting the virus is to get a vaccine shot, or immune globulin. Immune globulin is said to only protect you for a short time, while the actual vaccine can protect you for up to twenty years or more. Another type of vaccine known as Twinrix is specifically designed for people who are eighteen years or older. Twinrix is said to be just as effective as the regular vaccines HAV and HAB. But it is noted that some side effects are included with this shot. Soreness around the injection area, headaches and fatigue often follow after the shot although such side effects are usually gone with a 48 hour time frame. Following all safety precautions when traveling to a foreign region is also a must, remembering to always peel and wash any fruit or vegetables before eating and avoiding uncooked food.
There is really no specific treatment for Hepatitis A. People are advised to receive adequate nutrition, so they can avoid any type of permanent liver damage. When nausea is a problem, they are advised to eat small snacks throughout the period instead of large meals which could make them sick. Easily digested foods are the safest bet. It is said that people who are infected usually tolerate food better in the morning than later in the day. Doctors generally advise their patients to avoid drinking alcohol at all costs during the main phases of the virus. Even after full recovery, they are told not to mix alcohol with any type of medication, mainly Tylenol, because this can cause major damage to the liver.
Experts say that sufferers should regain their energy after the signs and symptoms disappear. The liver should also heal within one or two months. It is noted that some people experience relapses over six to nine month periods.