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Hepatitis A


Hepatitis A is inflammation of the liver caused by hepatitis A virus (HAV) infection. HAV is most often spread through contaminated food or water, or close contact with someone who is infected.


Return to the emergency department if:

  • You have severe abdominal pain.

  • You are too dizzy to stand up.

  • You vomit blood or material that looks like coffee grounds.

  • Your bowel movements are red or black, and sticky.

  • You feel confused, unusually sleepy, irritable, or jittery.

Contact your healthcare provider if:

  • You cannot drink liquids or keep food down.

  • You are bruising easily.

  • You have questions or concerns about your condition or care.


  • Check with your healthcare provider before you take any medicine. This includes over-the-counter medicine, herbs, and vitamins. Your healthcare provider may want you to change some of your medicines, or stop them, until your liver has recovered.

  • Take your medicine as directed. Call your healthcare provider if you think your medicine is not helping or if you have side effects. Tell him if you are allergic to any medicine. Keep a list of the medicines, vitamins, and herbs you take. Include the amounts, and when and why you take them. Bring the list or the pill bottles to follow-up visits. Carry your medicine list with you in case of an emergency.

Follow up with your healthcare provider as directed:

Write down your questions so you remember to ask them during your visits.

Manage hepatitis A:

  • Eat a variety of healthy foods. Healthy foods include fruits, vegetables, whole-grain breads, low-fat dairy products, and lean meats and fish. Your healthcare provider or dietitian may recommend that you limit protein foods such as milk, fish, meat, and fatty foods. Protein and fat make your liver work harder. As you feel better, you can add other kinds of foods.

  • Do not drink alcohol. Alcohol can increase liver damage. Talk to your healthcare provider if you drink alcohol and need help to stop.

  • Drink more liquids. Liquids help your liver function properly. Ask your healthcare provider how much liquid to drink each day and which liquids are best for you.

  • Get more rest. Rest if you are tired. Slowly return to your normal activities when you feel better.

Prevent the spread of HAV:

You are most contagious in the 2 weeks before and the first week after you become jaundiced. Your friends, sexual partners, and family members may need to get the hepatitis A vaccine. If you already have hepatitis A, it is too late to get the vaccine. The following are important things you can do to keep from spreading the infection:

  • Do not share dishes or utensils. Soak dishes and utensils in boiling water. Then wash them, or use a dishwasher. You may want to use disposable dishes.

  • Do not prepare food or meals for other people.

  • Wash your hands well before you eat and after you use the bathroom or change a child's diaper.

  • Wash clothing and bedding in the hottest water setting.

  • Clean toilets with a product that kills germs.

  • Let your healthcare provider know if your work involves preparing or serving food, or close physical contact with other people. If you do this kind of work, the health department will need to evaluate if these people have been exposed to hepatitis A. You cannot return to work until your healthcare provider says it is safe.

© 2015 Truven Health Analytics Inc. Information is for End User's use only and may not be sold, redistributed or otherwise used for commercial purposes. All illustrations and images included in CareNotes® are the copyrighted property of A.D.A.M., Inc. or Truven Health Analytics.

The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.