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How is it treated?

Hepatitis A goes away on its own in most cases. Most people get well within a few months. While you have hepatitis:

  • Slow down. Cut back on daily activities until all of your energy returns. As you start to feel better, take your time in getting back to your regular routine. If you try to do it too fast, you may get sick again.
  • Drink plenty of water to avoid dehydration. Fruit juices and broth are other good choices, if you can tolerate them.
  • Eat a healthy mix of foods. Even though food may not appeal to you, it is important for you to get good nutrition.
  • Don't drink alcohol or use illegal drugs. They can make liver problems worse.
  • Make sure your doctor knows all the medicines you are taking, including herbal products. Don't start or change any medicines without talking to your doctor first.

If hepatitis A causes more serious illness, you may need to stay in the hospital to prevent problems while your liver heals.

Be sure to take steps to avoid spreading the virus to others.

  • Wash your hands with soap and water right after you use the bathroom or change a diaper and before you prepare food.
  • Tell the people you live with or have sex with that you have hepatitis A. They should ask their doctors whether they need a dose of the vaccine or a shot of immunoglobulin (IG).
  • Don't have sexual contact with anyone while you're infected.

You can only get the hepatitis A virus once. After that, your body builds up a defense against it.

What can you do to prevent hepatitis A?

  • Get vaccinated against hepatitis A(What is a PDF document?) if your travel plans, job, health, or lifestyle puts you at risk.
  • Make sure your children get vaccinated. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends the vaccine for all children starting at age 1 year. It's also important for children adopted from other countries to get the vaccine.
  • Talk to your doctor if you've been around someone who you know has hepatitis A. The hepatitis A vaccine or an injection of immunoglobulin (IG) within 2 weeks of exposure may prevent you from getting sick.1
  • Practice good hygiene habits.
    • Wash your hands well after using the toilet, after changing a diaper, and before you prepare or eat food.
    • Wash dishes in hot, soapy water or in a dishwasher.
    • Discourage children from putting objects in their mouths.
    • Don't eat or drink anything that you think may have been prepared in unclean conditions.
  • Don't eat raw or undercooked shellfish.
  • If you plan to travel to a part of the world where sanitation is poor or where hepatitis A is a known problem:
    • Ask your doctor about getting the hepatitis A vaccine, a shot of immunoglobulin (IG), or the combination hepatitis A and B vaccine.
    • Always drink bottled water or boil water before drinking it. Avoid drinks with ice cubes.
    • Don't eat raw foods, such as unpeeled fruits or vegetables.
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WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

Last Updated: August 30, 2012
This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.
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