· You should rest when the symptoms are the worst.
· People with acute hepatitis should avoid alcohol and drugs that are toxic to the liver, including acetaminophen (Tylenol).
Fatty foods may cause vomiting and are best avoided during the acute phase of the illness.
The virus does not remain in the body after the infection is gone. .
Most people with hepatitis A recover within 3 months. Nearly all patients get better within 6 months.
There is a low risk of death. The risk is higher among the elderly and persons with chronic liver disease.
Calling your health care provider
Call your health care provider if you have symptoms of hepatitis.
The following tips can help reduce your risk of spreading or catching the virus:
· Always wash your hands well after using the restroom and when you come in contact with an infected person's blood, stools, or other bodily fluid.
· Avoid unclean food and water.
The virus may spread more rapidly through day care centers and other places where people are in close contact. Thorough hand washing before and after each diaper change, before serving food, and after using the restroom may help prevent such outbreaks.
Ask your doctor or nurse about getting either immune globulin or the hepatitis A vaccine if you are exposed to the disease and have not had hepatitis A or the hepatitis A vaccine.
Common reasons for getting one or both of these treatments include:
· You live with someone who has hepatitis A.
· You recently had sexual contact with someone who has hepatitis A.
· You recently shared illegal drugs, either injected or noninjected, with someone who has hepatitis A.
· You have had close personal contact over a period of time with someone who has hepatitis A.
· You have eaten in a restaurant where food or food handlers were found to be infected or contaminated with hepatitis.
Vaccines that protect against hepatitis A infection are available. The vaccine begins to protect 4 weeks after you get the first dose. You will need to get a booster shot 6- to 12-months later for long-term protection.
Travelers should take the following steps to protect against getting the disease:
· Avoid dairy products.
· Avoid raw or undercooked meat and fish.
· Beware of sliced fruit that may have been washed in unclean water. Travelers should peel all fresh fruits and vegetables themselves.
· Do not buy food from street vendors.
· Get vaccinated against hepatitis A (and possibly hepatitis B) if traveling to countries where outbreaks of the disease occur.
· Use only carbonated bottled water for brushing teeth and drinking. (Remember that ice cubes can carry infection.)
· If bottled water is not available, boiling water is the best way to get rid of hepatitis A. Bringing the water to a full boil for at least 1 minute to make it safe to drink.
· Heated food should be hot to the touch and eaten right away.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Recommended adult immunization schedule—United States, 2012. MMWR 2012;61(4).
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Recommended Immunization Schedules for Persons Aged 0 Through 18 Years -- United States, 2012, MMWR 2012;61(05);1-4.
Advisory Committee for Immunization Practices (ACIP) Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Update: Prevention of hepatitis A after exposure to hepatitis A virus and in international travelers. Updated recommendations of the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP). MMWR Morb Mortal Wkly Rep. 2007;56:1080-1084.
Sjogren MH, Cheatham JG. Hepatitis A. In: Feldman M, Friedman LS, Brandt LJ, eds. Sleisenger and Fordtran's Gastrointestinal and Liver Disease. 9th ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Saunders Elsevier; 2010:chap 77.
Victor JC, Monto AS, Surdina TY, Suleimenova SZ, Vaughan G, Nainan OV, Favorov MO, Margolis HS, Bell BP. Hepatitis A vaccine versus immune globulin for postexposure prophylaxis. N Engl J Med. 2007;357:1685-1694.
George F. Longstreth, MD, Department of Gastroenterology, Kaiser Permanente Medical Care Program, San Diego, California. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Bethanne Black, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.