Hepatitis A – infectious jaundice

Hepatitis A is an inflammation of the liver caused by a virus. The disease usually goes away by itself, but you may be tired for many months afterwards. Hepatitis A is most often transmitted through food and drink. You who have hepatitis need to follow certain rules so as not to pass the infection on.

Symptoms of hepatitis A

Most people who get hepatitis A go through three phases with different symptoms. The severity of the symptoms can vary greatly from person to person. For example, not everyone gets yellow in the skin. Some get no symptoms at all.

Children up to five years rarely get any symptoms if they get hepatitis A.

The first symptoms

The first phase of hepatitis A lasts between a few days and up to a week. Then you have symptoms similar to the flu, with headaches, fever, fatigue and pain in the body. In addition, you may lose appetite, feel ill and even vomit. Some also get joint pain and itching.

It takes between two to six weeks from the time you become infected until the first symptoms come. It is most common that it takes about four weeks before you get symptoms.

You turn yellowish

During the second phase, the skin becomes yellowish. The yellow color is most clearly visible in the eye whites. This is often where you first discover the yellow. In addition, the urine is often darkened and the stools become light. 

If you have a light complexion, it may look like you have a tan with a yellow-red undertone. If you have dark complexion, yellow may appear less.

It is also common to get sore under the ribs on the right side of the abdomen. There sits the liver, which swells when it becomes inflamed.

When the yellow color of the skin and the eyes will often the first symptoms usually become more mild.

The phase lasts for one to several weeks.

You get well

Jaundice usually lasts for about three weeks. But it is common for you to be tired and have decreased appetite for weeks or months after you become ill. You may feel tired both physically and mentally. It can take several months to fully recover.

When and where should I seek care?

If  any of the following is true, contact a health center or infection center :

  • You have symptoms such as yellow eye whites and yellowish skin.
  • You have had close contact with someone who has hepatitis A.

So hepatitis A infects

A person with hepatitis A is contagious about two weeks before the first symptoms have come and then for one to two weeks after that.

Infects via the poop

Hepatitis A virus is found in the pouch of infected people. If the person does not wash their hands thoroughly after a toilet visit, the infection can be passed on to food or water. Then others who eat the food or drink the water can get sick.

May be transmitted through water and food

The hepatitis A virus can survive for a long time in water. The infection can be spread further from wastewater to other types of water. Sometimes the virus is found in oysters and mussels that have lived in water where the infection is.

Hepatitis A can also be found in fresh or frozen berries, ice cream or raw vegetables. Then either someone who is infected has touched the food or they have been watered with contaminated water.

Only people can get hepatitis A.

May infect at close body contact

Hepatitis A can infect people with close body contact.

You become immune

You can only get hepatitis A once. Then you become immune. However, you can still get other types of hepatitis.

Hepatitis A is unusual

Hepatitis A is rare in but common in many countries in Africa, Asia, South America, the Middle East and Eastern Europe.

Hepatitis A should be reported

Hepatitis A is a so-called generalized disease that is subject to notification under the Infection Protection Act . This means that the doctor who discovers that someone has the disease should report this to the infection control doctor and the Public Health Agency. It is important to find out where the infection is coming from in order to limit the spread of the disease.

The health care staff identifies which contacts the sick person has had. If you have been in close contact with someone who is ill or who has been infected with food, you will receive information about it. You may need to have a blood test.

You must inform your employer that you are infected if you work with food. You may need to be relocated or temporarily suspended from work to avoid infecting others. In that case, you can get so-called infectious carrier money from the Social Insurance Agency.

How can I prevent hepatitis A?

You can vaccinate against hepatitis A. It is the surest way to avoid getting sick if you come into contact with infection.  

Vaccination is recommended for the following adults and children over one year of age. Sometimes children younger than one year can get a vaccine. 

  • You are related to someone who has hepatitis A.
  • You have had close contact with someone who has hepatitis A.
  • You should travel to a country where hepatitis A is common.
  • You have a chronic liver disease.

Vaccination is recommended if you are traveling to Eastern Europe, South America, Africa and Asia including the Middle East. You do not usually need to be vaccinated if you are traveling in the rest of Europe, North America, Australia and New Zealand.

Immunoglobulin instead of vaccine

In some cases, instead of a vaccine, you may get something called immunoglobulin. By then, the body is already supplied with antibodies against hepatitis A for preventive purposes. It is called passive immunization and provides temporary protection against the disease for about two months.

Immunoglobulin is generally given only to people with any relatives who have hepatitis A and to people who, due to other illnesses or drugs, do not get the effect of regular vaccination.

Wash your hands frequently

Be careful about hygiene if you are with someone who has hepatitis A. Wash your hands carefully and often.

Also, be careful about hygiene if you are traveling in countries where hepatitis A is common. Avoid foods that have not been heated, such as raw vegetables and fruits or unpeeled berries, ice cubes and ice cream.

You who have hepatitis A must follow certain rules

If you have had hepatitis A, it is important to avoid passing the infection on, during the weeks you are contagious. Usually your doctor or infectious disease doctor will tell you what rules to follow. You should get information if you can work or if an infectious child can go to preschool or school.

Here are the tips that infected people usually get:

  • Wash your hands thoroughly after every toilet visit and before every meal.
  • Use your own soap and preferably hand spirit.
  • Use your own towel or disposable towels.
  • Shower instead of bathing. Do not swim in the whirlpool or pools.
  • Do not cook for others and do not touch other people’s food.
  • Keep in mind that the infection can be transmitted at close body contact.
  • Wash your hands after changing diapers on a child who has the infection. Also wash the changing table with hand spirit. Put the used diaper in a plastic bag that you tie together before discarding it.  
  • You are obliged to attend the care visits and the sampling that you are called to.

Children who have hepatitis A and go to preschool should stay at home as long as they can infect others. Schoolchildren can go to school, but should not participate in gymnastics or cook with other children. Nor should they use shared toilets.

If you have a dry or decay toilet, consult with the environmental and health protection committee in your municipality how the waste should be handled so as not to spread the infection.

What can I do for myself?

Hepatitis A can make you very tired. You usually need to rest the first time. It can sometimes feel better to avoid fatty foods if you feel unwell, but you decide that yourself.

Avoid alcohol and be careful about drugs

When you have hepatitis A, your liver needs rest to heal. Therefore, avoid substances that can damage or damage the liver. Avoid drinking alcohol for at least three months. Also, avoid birth control pills and consult with your doctor about which medicines you can use. 

Treatment

There is no treatment for hepatitis A. The disease usually goes away by itself within a month.

You who work may need to be on sick leave during the first few weeks, when you are ill. It is then different from person to person how quickly you recover and can start working again.

Most become completely healthy from hepatitis A. Within three months, the liver usually heals completely.

Avoid certain medicines

Always ask your doctor for advice if you need medication to relieve the symptoms. Some medicines may be inappropriate if you have liver inflammation. This also applies to non-prescription drugs such as Alvedon and Ipren. 

Surveys

If you have symptoms of hepatitis A, you can have  a blood test at the health center. The blood test shows whether the virus is present in the blood and whether the liver is affected.

Hepatitis A and pregnancy

If you are pregnant and get hepatitis A, it is not dangerous for the baby in the stomach. There is a small risk that the baby will be infected at birth if you, as a pregnant woman, are contagious at the time. The child usually does not get any symptoms, but can carry the infection on during the weeks of infection.

sequelae

The most common thing is that you get completely healthy if you get hepatitis A.

In very rare cases, the disease can lead to severe liver damage, where liver inflammation becomes so severe that the liver no longer works. The first signs of this are confusion, worry and severe fatigue. The disease is then so serious that you need to be hospitalized and receive intensive care.

You are more likely to get seriously ill if you already have another liver disease, such as cirrhosis or chronic hepatitis B or C.

About hepatitis A

The liver cleanses the blood in the body, stores fat and sugar and breaks down certain substances. The liver also affects some hormones and the blood’s ability to stop bleeding.

Hepatitis is a viral disease that causes inflammation of the liver. It prevents the liver from breaking down certain substances, such as alcohol or various drugs.

A healthy liver cleanses the yellow substance bilirubin from the body. If the liver is inflamed, it will not cope. This allows you to get yellowish skin, yellow eye whites and darker urine than usual.

There are several types of hepatitis

There are several types of hepatitis disease caused by viruses: Hepatitis A, Hepatitis B, Hepatitis C, Hepatitis D and Hepatitis E. Hepatitis is also commonly called jaundice as the skin often becomes yellow in color if you get the disease.

Hepatitis A is not a chronic disease, unlike hepatitis B, C and D which can sometimes cause chronic hepatitis.

The jaundice newborn baby can have is not hepatitis and is not contagious. 

Influence and participate in your care

In order for you to be able to participate in your care and make decisions, it is important that you understand the information you receive from the healthcare staff. Ask questions if you don’t understand. You can also ask to have the information printed so that you can read it peacefully.

You have the opportunity to get help from an interpreter. You have the opportunity to get help from an interpreter if you have a hearing loss .

You can seek care at any healthcare center you want throughout the country.

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