Viral Hepatitis A
WHAT YOU SHOULD KNOW:
Hepatitis A is inflammation in the liver caused by infection of a virus (germ). Once you have had hepatitis A, you will not get it again. Hepatitis A is very contagious, and is most often spread by eating contaminated food or water, or close contact with someone who is infected.
- Check with your primary healthcare provider before you take any medicine. This includes over-the-counter medicine, herbs, and vitamins. Your primary 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 primary 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 primary healthcare provider as directed:
Write down your questions so you remember to ask them during your visits.
- Eat a balanced diet: When you have an appetite again, eat healthy foods such as fruits, vegetables, breads, low-fat dairy products, and lean meat and fish. Healthy foods may help you feel better and heal faster.
- Avoid alcohol: Alcohol makes your liver work harder.
- Drink plenty of liquids: Drink 6 to 8 glasses (8 ounces each) of liquid each day. Follow your primary healthcare provider's advice if you need to limit liquids. Good liquids to drink are water and juices. Avoid caffeine.
- Get plenty of rest: Rest if you are tired. Slowly return to your normal activities when you feel better.
Prevent the spread of hepatitis A:
Tell your friends, sexual partner, and family members that you have hepatitis A. They may need to get a vaccine to keep them from getting hepatitis A. The following are important things you can do to keep from spreading the infection:
- Do not share dishes and eating utensils. Soak dishes and utensils in boiling water then wash 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 primary 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 primary healthcare provider says it is safe.
Contact your primary 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.
Return to the emergency department if:
- You feel confused, unusually sleepy, irritable, or jittery.
- You have severe abdominal pain.
- Your bowel movements are red or black and sticky.
- You vomit blood or material that looks like coffee grounds.
- You are too dizzy to stand up.
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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.