Hepatitis A and All You Should Know About It

Hepatitis

You are welcome to the Hepatitis series, we would be discussing hepatitis in these series. Our first point of call is Hepatitis A. Hepatitis in itself occurs as a result of the inflammation of the liver and if not treated properly will lead to severe liver problems and dysfunctions.

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Hepatitis A is a disease caused by the Hepatitis A virus and it is a disease that affects the liver. It is a highly contagious disease. It is a viral disease which can go from mild to very severe in a matter of days if not treated properly. This virus is spread through basically two means namely;

  • through body or direct contact with an infected person
  • through taking in and digesting contaminated food.

Though majority often recover from it due to the immunization given to them while they were children, a very small minority can’t recover due to sometimes a weakened immune system caused by another underlying disease that has affected the immune system.

For people exposed to taking contaminated or dirty water, live in a poorly sanitized environment and lack good personal hygiene, they have a higher risk of contacting the Hepatitis A virus. There are some facts that needs to be known about the Hepatitis A virus and they include:

  1. Unlike other forms of the Hepatitis diseases such as Hepatitis B and Hepatitis C, Hepatitis A doesn’t cause chronic liver diseases, and rarely does it cause serious severe liver problems but most times it can lead to fulminant hepatitis thereby causing liver failure which then becomes a severe problem.
  2. Mostly, Hepatitis A is caused from lack of hygiene. Mostly it is spread through the fecal-oral route. This occurs when a person after using the toilet doesn’t clean his/her hands properly and then uses that same hand to eat.

If the person touches someone who is not infected or eats with a person not infected, there is a tendency for the person that is a carrier of the virus to transfer or transmit that virus unto the other person who wasn’t infected initially. This is one of the major ways by which Hepatitis A is spread.

  1. Another major means of transmission of this virus is Oral sex. Having oral sex with a person that is infected will give you an express ticket to getting the disease.
  2. Another way of getting this disease is through Finger/anal sex.
  3. Hepatitis A can be spread by eating undercooked food which has been initially infected.
  4. Even if a food has been cooked properly and it was still contaminated after cooking properly, one may get infected with this virus.
  5. The virus can stay up to 6 weeks in the body without the person having full blown symptoms. Hence, most times Hepatitis can stay without being detected. But when the symptoms hit, they can last for about 8 weeks before they completely disappear.
  6. Full blown symptoms can manifest in the following ways: nausea, fever and chills, abdominal pain, vomiting, severe diarrhea, dark urine, light colored stools due to the lack of effect of bilirubin and jaundice because the function of the liver begins to decline.
  7. Children most times are carriers, but they will most likely not show any symptom or fall ill. But yet they have the ability to infect others both children and adults.
  8. Once a person has been exposed to this virus and treated, the person won’t be able to contact his disease again. In other words, after a first-time experience with this disease, a person grows immunity to this disease hence he can’t be infected again for the rest of his/her life.
  9. Mostly, countries usually are recommended to have the Hepatitis A vaccine and administer it to children even from the age of 1year. This vaccine has been seen to be very effective in preventing this disease.
  10. Hepatitis A is mostly found in cities and countries that are overcrowded and poorly developed. Hence, this infection is mostly found in poor countries such as third-war countries mostly in Africa and also countries that have poor hygiene. In fact, most children in these countries develop this disease very early in life and hence grow immunity to it later in life.
  11. Eating of raw shellfish and unwashed fruits are seen to be other ways by which this disease can be spread from one person to another.
  12. Your risk factors increase if you have unprotected sex with anyone who is infected or if you go to countries in which the infection is predominant as in the case of a full-blown outbreak.
  13. Children put in the day care with anyone infected increases the tendency of either the child to contact this infection or their guardians and teachers at the day care center to contact this infection.
  14. Most times this disease tends to relapse after a specific amount of time. Sometimes, it could relapse after 6months or sometimes after 9 months.
  15. There is no treatment for this disease yet, but it can be prevented by administering a vaccine for this disease known as the Hepatitis A vaccine.
  16. To prevent this disease, you must practice good hygiene and also choose sexual partners who aren’t infected by this disease.
  17. Once you find out that you have come in contact with a person who has been infected, please speak to your physician so that they can administer you with a medication known as IMMUNOGLOBIN.

However, this vaccine or preventive treatment will only be valid if it is administered within the first two weeks of exposure. This means that once you find out that you are infected, within two weeks you must be given the vaccine hence you become infected and you begin to experience its symptoms.

  1. For teachers and guardians at a day care center, after handling a diaper or changing a diaper, please ensure you wash your hands thoroughly with soap and clean water so that you won’t be infected with the virus once you eat with the hand.
  2. Ensure you wash your hands before and after food.
  3. People who inject themselves mostly with hard drugs are very prone to contacting this disease. Not just if you inject yourself but once you share needles with an infected person, you are likewise infected.
  4. People who have hemophilia and any other clotting disorder is also at a high risk of contracting this disease.
  5. A hepatitis A virus can survive outside a host for several months. Heat gotten from High temperatures used when cooking will kill this virus, but freezing or cold temperatures will not kill the virus.
  6. If a man has sex with another man who is infected, he will likely be very prone to becoming infected as well.
Deborah Akinola
Wirter, poet and public speaker