Symptoms and Signs of Hepatitis A (HAV, Hep A)

Medical Author:
Medically Reviewed on 11/1/2021

Doctor's Notes on Hepatitis A (HAV, Hep A)

Hepatitis A is a disease characterized by inflammation of the liver. It is caused by an infection with the hepatitis A virus. Hepatitis A virus is spread from person to person by contaminated stools (feces), foods that have been touched or prepared by an infected person, and close personal contact with an infected person, or contaminated water. It is not spread by coughing, sneezing, or being near an infected person.

People can be infected with hepatitis A and not show any symptoms. When they do occur, symptoms of hepatitis A may include:

Other associated signs and symptoms may include:

  • light-colored stools,
  • dark yellow urine, and
  • yellowing of the whites of the eyes and skin (known as jaundice).

What Is the Treatment for Hepatitis A?

Hepatitis A usually gets better within a few weeks without specific treatment and does not cause long-term complications. As such, management of symptoms involves:

  • rest,
  • drinking plenty of liquids, and
  • eating healthy foods.

Medications may be used if needed to help relieve symptoms. Discuss any medications, vitamins, alternative medications, or supplements with your doctor, as some of these can be harmful to the liver while you are recovering. It is also important to avoid alcohol until you have completely recovered from hepatitis A.

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Kasper, D.L., et al., eds. Harrison's Principles of Internal Medicine, 19th Ed. United States: McGraw-Hill Education, 2015.