Beware of Hepatitis A in monsoon; check out these warning signs and symptoms, prevention tips
One of the common infections during rainy season is Hepatitis A, an inflammation of liver that spreads through contaminated food and water.
Monsoon can whet your appetite for street food which is often fried, spicy, and also unhygienic; from the use of unsafe water, reused oil to pollution, there are many factors that could play havoc with your digestive health. Considering rainy weather also raises risk of microbial infections due to high humidity, one needs to make sure they are buying food only from hygienic places, ideally homemade. One of the common infections during rainy season is Hepatitis A, an inflammation of liver that spreads through contaminated food and water or direct contact with the person suffering from the infection. The disease can cause mild or severe symptoms. They include fever, loss of appetite, diarrhoea, malaise, nausea, abdominal discomfort, dark-coloured urine and jaundice. (Also read: Monsoon fitness: Easy and creative ways to walk 10,000 steps when it's raining outside)
Dr. Lalit Verma, Clinical Lead & Senior Paediatric Gastroenterologist, Hepatologist and Liver transplant specialist Global Hospitals Parel in an interview with HT Digital talks about signs and symptoms, risk factor and prevention tips.
What is Hepatitis A
Hepatitis A is highly contagious but gets resolved in a few weeks or months without any significant impact on long term liver health and patients usually have a good recovery. Hepatitis A spreads through unhygienic food or contaminated water and is common in monsoon season. There is no specific treatment for the infection and thus it is important to prevent contracting it. People who have chronic health issues or liver disease are at risk of liver failure and even fatality. Older people need to be extra careful as they are at greater risk
Who is at risk?
If you haven't taken vaccination for Hepatitis A or are not previously infected by the virus, you are at risk of getting it. Usually two shots of the Hepatitis A vaccine are given to people at the gap of 6 months. There is also an option of a combination vaccine that can prevent people from both hepatitis A and hepatitis B infection. Poor sanitation, lack of safe water, living with an infected person, travelling to areas of high endemicity without being immunized are all risk factors people must be aware of.
Symptoms of Hepatitis A
Vomiting, fever, abdominal pain, dark urine, low appetite, itching, diarrhoea, fatigue, vomiting, abdominal pain, and jaundice in a later stage. Once the family members of caregivers notice jaundice then they should consult the expert on an immediate basis. Most of the affected hepatitis A patients get cured on their own. But, 0.5 % of the patients may require hospital admissions for worsening jaundice (a sign of serious liver injury)
How to diagnose Hepatitis A?
Treating doctor will take down your medical history and check antibodies in the blood, called anti-HAV IgM. These antibodies will help to know if one is having hepatitis A.
Treatment and prevention goals
- There is no specific treatment for hepatitis A.
- Recovery from symptoms following infection may be slow and can take several weeks or months.
- Do not self-medicate
- The doctor will ask you to be comfortable, eat a nutritious diet, and drink a lot of fluids. Avoid smoking and alcohol if you are infected with Hepatitis A virus.
- The spread of hepatitis A can be reduced by adequate supplies of safe drinking water and proper disposal of sewage.
- Personal hygiene practices such as regular handwashing before meals and after going to the bathroom.
- Inactivated hepatitis A vaccines are available above 1 year of age.