Hepatitis A is a rather common infection, and you’d be surprised how easy it is to catch it. It’s caused by a virus that attacks your liver causing its inflammation, leading to a series of not-so-pleasant symptoms. As was said before, anyone can catch it, however, there are some groups of people who are at more risk than others. The list is long, but let’s say the highest risk is among frequent travelers, people who do drugs, homeless people, and people living in poor hygienic circumstances.
It affects everyone, regardless of gender, race, or age. In our conditions, infections occur more often in children who get away with it having no symptoms at all. The good thing about it is that in this case, it leaves a solid and lifelong immunity.
How can you know if you are infected? Just as with any other virus – you get tested. If you have questions about where to get tested, visit stdtestingnow.com. As for what to expect when getting tested, we’ll list a couple of things below.
The first thing you should know is that when taking the test, they’re going to take your blood sample. So, the results will show if you are currently infected and if you have suffered the infection at some point in your life. This is visible through the antibodies found in your blood. There are usually not many preparations involved in taking it, but you have felt some symptoms of weakness, you may want to consider taking someone with you.
Now, the question which will surely bother you while you wait for the results is what kind of manifestation you can expect if you’re found positive?
It all begins with general symptoms like fatigue, weakness, headache, and fever, which is why have suggested not going alone to take the test. In addition to these symptoms, there are also symptoms related to your digestion, like the loss of appetite, nausea, urge to vomit, and so on.
If you have noticed your urine is darker than usual, and your feces lighter, then it is one of the things that may signal the infection.
The most characteristic sign of having this infection is when you notice yellowish color in your eyes and on your skin. But as is the case with children, it can also go without any symptoms, even when your results show positive.
Type A, unlike some other viral forms of the same infection (type B, and C) is the most common mild disease that never leaves lasting consequences. With or without symptoms, infection leaves long-lasting immunity. So, rest assured you won’t get it again. But if you do notice some of the symptoms, it’s a signal you may have an infection of another hepatitis virus (B or C). Due to the acquired immunity at a younger age, the elderly are less likely to suffer from this disease.
Where did I get the infection?
The most important entry point for the virus is the mouth. Hence the importance of washing your hands before the meal. If you have got in contact with it, it will travel from your digestive tract, through the blood, to your liver where it will attack its cells, causing them damage.
How much time will you have until the first symptoms appear?
It will most probably take between 15 and 45 days until you notice you’re infected. Although already in this period, you can notice by the color of your feces.
When am I infectious?
The excretion of the virus begins before the first symptoms of the disease appear, during the incubation period. It is most intense at the end of incubation. Hence the importance of paying attention to the color of your feces, especially if you have a reason to suspect you’re infected. With the appearance of yellowness, the infectivity decreases sharply, so that at the end of the third week, you are practically no longer carrying the infection and cannot do any harm to others.
How is it transmitted?
Let’s make one thing very clear, although it is curable, do not underestimate this virus. It’s so resistant that even in the external environment, it will stay active very long. It is spread by direct contact, contaminated water, or food. The most important route of spread is direct contact. Mostly via hands that are contaminated with feces containing the virus, either by direct contact with an infected person, or asymptomatically infected or indirectly, through contaminated objects.
The fastest spreading and the most frequent infections are in places of poor hygienic conditions and in over inhabited areas. It is most often found in families, preschool and school collectives, and institutions for the care of children and the elderly. In areas with unsafe water supply, water represents a significant pathway for expansion.
It rarely happens that it can be transmitted by using food products that are secondarily contaminated with feces immediately before use and have not been thermally treated. The sexual partners of persons infected (with or without symptoms) are at a higher risk of infection. Several epidemics of this disease have been recorded among the gay men population.
What are the suggestions for prevention?
The basic directions of prevention of this infection, as well as any other intestinal infection, are aimed at raising personal and general hygiene, providing hygienically correct drinking water, hygienic production and trade of food products, and hygienic disposal of waste materials. As the contact route of spread is the most common, priority is given to personal and general hygiene: handwashing, maintaining the hygiene of sanitary appliances, work, and living space.
If your test results show negative and that you have never suffered this infection, then you may want to consider getting vaccinated, especially if you belong to any of the risk groups mentioned in the article. Even though the infection is curable, leaves no serious damages, and isn’t treated with any serious medications, not getting it is always a better way. Vaccination is your shortcut to immunity.