July 16, 2020
2 min. read

What is Hepatitis A?


The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that in 2015, 257 million people globally suffered from Hepatitis B, while 71 million people worldwide suffered from Hepatitis C. Both of these types of hepatitis may cause lifelong infection; according to WHO, in 2015 1.34 million people died from liver cancer, cirrhosis, and other conditions caused by chronic viral hepatitis.

Viral hepatitis symptoms are similar no matter which type of hepatitis you have and include the following:

  • Jaundice (yellowing of the skin and whites of the eyes)
  • Fever
  • Loss of appetite
  • Fatigue
  • Dark urine
  • Joint pain
  • Abdominal pain
  • Diarrhea
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting

For all types of viral hepatitis, symptoms are less common in children than in adults, and people of any age with a Hepatitis C viral infection are less likely to experience symptoms.

Hepatitis A is spread by close personal contact, such as sex or living in the same household. The virus that causes it, HAV, is found in the feces of people with Hepatitis A and can be spread by eating food or drinking water that has been contaminated with HAV.

“When and if there are symptoms they present as fatigue, feeling tired, nausea, vomiting, lack of appetite, fever (temperature greater than 100.4 F or 38 C) and pain where the liver is located (on the upper right side of the abdomen). In more progressive illness symptoms such as darker urine, lighter colored stools, jaundice (yellowing of skin and whites of the eyes) and itchy skin may develop,” says Stella Badalova, Director of Healthcare Relations and Clinical Development at Medly Pharmacy.

The incubation period — the amount of time during which you can give the disease to others, but are not showing symptoms yourself — is 15 to 50 days, or on average, 28 days.

“No treatments are available for HAV but fortunately most people recover with supportive treatments at home such as rest and adequate hydration. Complete recovery time averages between 3-6 months; however, some people infected with HAV may experience 6-9 months due to prolonged or relapsing symptoms,” Badalova says.

“Once an individual recovers from HAV, they develop immunity to HAV and will never get infected by it again. In addition, unlike other forms of hepatitis, HAV does not cause chronic liver disease as a result of their infection.”

Safe and effective vaccines have been available in the US since 1995 to help prevent HAV transmission. For more information, see our blog on the differences between Hepatitis A, B, and C.

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