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Reviewed by Ruthann Cunningham, MD, June 6, 2017
What is hepatitis A?
Hepatitis A is an inflammation of the liver caused by the hepatitis A virus. It is transmitted by contaminated
food and water or can be transmitted sexually from person to person if one partner is positive for the Hepatitis A
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, this infection can range in severity and length. In
some cases, the infection can last only a few weeks and present with mild symptoms. In other cases, hepatitis A can
continue for months and cause serious digestive tract symptoms.
What are the symptoms of hepatitis A?
Almost 70% of patients infected with hepatitis A have symptoms. Usually this occurs about 28 days after getting
infected. Most people are better in 2-3 months but symptoms may last longer.
The most common way to contract hepatitis A is through water or food that has been contaminated by the stool
of someone carrying the virus. It can be spread from person to person through the infected stool during anal-oral sex.
If you have reason to believe you are at risk for hepatitis, whether or not you are feeling symptoms, getting
tested is simple. The hepatitis A IgM test screens for the infection. It is a blood test. It does not
require fasting. Once you get tested, results will be available to you usually in 3 business days or less.
Is there a cure or treatment for hepatitis A?
Most of cases hepatitis A clear up on their own without a great deal of medical intervention. If you are feeling
symptoms that interfere with your day-to-day lifestyle or are in a significant amount of pain, please contact your
doctor right away.
What if I don't get hepatitis A treatment?
Most case of hepatitis A clear up on their own with rest and fluids. However, liver infections left undiagnosed and unmonitored can become very serious. Knowing your status is
a simple and effective way to safeguard against the more harmful complications of a compromised liver.
How can I prevent getting hepatitis A?
Hepatitis A is preventable by vaccine. It’s recommended that all infants receive this vaccine before the age of
Make sure to use protection during sex with every partner. This is an effective way to protect against all STDs,
including hepatitis A.
If you are traveling to areas where hepatitis A infections are more common, you can get vaccinated beforehand at
any age. It is a safe, effective measure to protect against a potentially severe liver infection.
Unlike hepatitis B and C, hepatitis A does not become chronic, and can only be sexually transmitted by