Hepatitis A is a highly contagious liver infection caused by the hepatitis A virus. The virus is one of several types of hepatitis viruses that cause inflammation and affect your liver’s ability to function.
You’re most likely to get hepatitis A from contaminated food or water or from close contact with a person or object that’s infected. Mild cases of hepatitis A don’t require treatment. Most people who are infected recover completely with no permanent liver damage.
Practicing good hygiene, including washing hands frequently, is one of the best ways to protect against hepatitis A. Vaccines are available for people most at risk.
- Sudden nausea and vomiting
- Abdominal pain or discomfort, especially on the upper right side beneath your lower ribs
- Clay-colored bowel movements
- Loss of appetite
- Low-grade fever
- Dark urine
- Joint pain
- Yellowing of the skin and the whites of your eyes
- Intense itching
Here are some of the specific ways the hepatitis A virus can spread:
- Eating food handled by someone with the virus who doesn’t thoroughly wash his or her hands after using the toilet
- Drinking contaminated water
- Eating raw shellfish from water polluted with sewage
- Being in close contact with a person who’s infected — even if that person has no signs or symptoms
- Having sex with someone who has the virus
No specific treatment exists for hepatitis A. Your body will clear the hepatitis A virus on its own. In most cases of hepatitis A, the liver heals within six months with no lasting damage.
- Manage nausea.
- Avoid alcohol and use medications with care.