What are the symptoms? continued...
All forms of hepatitis have similar symptoms. Only a blood test can tell if you have hepatitis A or another form of the disease.
Call your doctor if you have reason to think that you have hepatitis A or have been exposed to it. (For example, did you recently eat in a restaurant where a server was found to have hepatitis A? Has there been an outbreak at your child's day care? Does someone in your house have hepatitis A?)
How is hepatitis A diagnosed?
Your doctor will ask questions about your symptoms and where you have eaten or traveled. You may have blood tests if your doctor thinks you have the virus. These tests can tell if your liver is inflamed and whether you have antibodies to the hepatitis A virus. These antibodies prove that you have been exposed to the virus.
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.