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Hepatitis A

Hepatitis A is an acute infectious disease of the liver caused by the Hepatitis A virus. It is transmitted via food or water that has been contaminated by the faeces of infected individuals. However close contact with infected people can also cause an infection.

Outbreaks usually occur in areas where the water supply is contaminated by sewage. A person infected with Hepatitis A is contagious until the symptoms surface, spreading the virus for a number of weeks. Generally Hepatitis A is mild, but can be severe or even fatal in some cases. Typical symptoms of this infection:

  • Loss of appetite
  • Distaste for cigarettes
  • Nausea
  • Aching muscles and joints
  • Mild fever
  • Flu-like symptoms
  • Loss of appetite
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Diarrhoea
  • Abdominal pains
  • Jaundice
  • Mucous membranes
  • Light-coloured stools
  • Dark urine

It is likely you will completely recover within a couple of months, although a small number of people have been known to relapse and may continue with symptoms for up to 6 months after infection. Once you have recovered from hepatitis A, you are immune from it and can never catch the virus again.


There isn’t currently a specific treatment for Hepatitis A. Your GP will usually advise you to rest, drink plenty of water and to take care not to spread the infection to others. Remember to always wash your hands after going to the toilet and before preparing food. Also as your liver won't be working at full capacity, it is vital that you do not consume and alcohol until you liver has fully recovered.

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This website contains general information about medical conditions and treatments. The information is not advice, and should not be treated as such. Please read our medical disclaimer.