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Hepatitis A In Children


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.

Common signs and symptoms:

Your child may have no symptoms. Symptoms usually begin between 28 to 30 days after exposure to HAV, but it may be up to 50 days. Your child may have the following signs and symptoms:

  • Low fever, usually under 100.4°F (38°C)
  • Dark urine or pale bowel movements
  • Fatigue
  • Nausea, vomiting, or loss of appetite
  • Pain in the right upper side of his abdomen
  • Jaundice (yellow skin and eyes) and itchy skin

Seek care immediately if:

  • Your child has severe abdominal pain.
  • Your child is too dizzy to stand up.
  • Your child vomits blood or material that looks like coffee grounds.
  • Your child's bowel movements are red or black, and sticky.
  • Your child is confused, unusually sleepy, irritable, or jittery.

Contact your child's healthcare provider if:

  • Your child is vomiting and cannot keep food or liquids down.
  • Your child is bruising easily.
  • You have questions or concerns about your child's condition or care.


Usually your child will be treated at home. Medicine may not be needed. If he vomits a lot, he may need to go to the hospital to get fluids through an IV. Rest and healthy food will help him get better.

Manage hepatitis A:

  • Offer your child a variety of healthy foods. Healthy foods include fruits, vegetables, whole-grain breads, low-fat dairy products, and lean meats and fish. Your child's healthcare provider or dietitian may recommend that you limit protein foods such as milk, fish, meat, and fatty foods. Protein and fat make your child's liver work harder. As he feels better, you can add other kinds of foods.
  • Talk to your adolescent about not drinking alcohol. Alcohol can increase liver damage. Talk to your healthcare provider if your adolescent drinks alcohol and needs help to stop.
  • Have your child drink more liquids. Liquids help your child's liver function properly. Ask your child's healthcare provider how much liquid to drink each day and which liquids are best for him.
  • Have your child rest more. He needs to rest when he is tired. Have your child slowly return to his normal activities when he feels better.

Prevent the spread of HAV:

Your child is most contagious in the 2 weeks before and the first week after he becomes jaundiced. Your child's friends and family members may need to get the hepatitis A vaccine. If your adolescent is sexually active, his sex partner may also need to get the vaccine. After a person has hepatitis A, it is too late to get the vaccine. The following are ways to prevent the spread of HAV:

  • Do not let your child 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 let your child prepare food or meals for other people.
  • Wash your and your child's 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 adolescent's work involves preparing or serving food, or close physical contact with other people. If he does this kind of work, the health department will need to evaluate if these people have been exposed to hepatitis A. He cannot return to work until your healthcare provider says it is safe.

Follow up with your child's healthcare provider as directed:

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

© 2016 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.