“Nancy, would you stop wasting food?! There are millions of people out there with nothing to eat,” Fiona said. Yet, Fiona was always the first to throw out leftovers and burn up to a cupful of rice. Food shortage If you’ve ever gone through social media like TikTok and YouTube, you must have seen videos of people wasting food.
It’s been about three weeks since Logan arrived from a fun trip with his friends, and he felt like he would when he had a hangover. He was vomiting, stooling frequently and had abdominal pain. He also noticed that his eyes seemed yellowish. Thanks to his roommate who dragged him to the hospital, he was diagnosed with hepatitis A and treated accordingly.
What is Hepatitis A?
Hepatitis A is caused by the Hepatitis A virus (HAV), which is one of the viruses that cause hepatitis. Hepatitis is the inflammation of the liver that could resolve spontaneously after some time, say weeks or months. The virus infects the liver and incubates for about 14 to 28 days before it manifests with symptoms.
Hepatitis A is spread via the faecal-oral route, that is, through consumption of food or water that has been contaminated with infected faeces. In some cases, hepatitis A can be spread via sexual contact such as oral-anal sex with infected individuals. Putting contaminated objects in your mouth, even if they look clean, could get you infected with hepatitis A.
Symptoms of Hepatitis A
Though not all persons infected with hepatitis experience symptoms, the infection could manifest with:
- Fever (mild to severe).
- Loss of appetite.
- Malaise or fatigue.
- Abdominal discomfort.
- Dark-coloured urine.
- Jaundice (yellowing of the whites of the eyes and the skin).
- Joint pain.
- Intense itching.
Note: The severity of the disease increases with age.
Prevention of Hepatitis A
Hepatitis A infection can be prevented by practicing simple hygiene measures, including hand washing. Regular hand washing with soap and water keeps the virus away from your hands and protects you from infecting yourself with it. Further, a vaccine is available to protect you from hepatitis A. This vaccine is routinely given during childhood or to some adults.
Other preventive methods include:
- Properly cook and heat your food, especially sea foods like shellfish.
- Ensure your utensils are clean before use.
- Drink clean water always.
- Have proper bathroom etiquette, that is, ensure to clean up properly after emptying your bowels and make sure faecal waste is properly disposed of.
- Avoid putting random objects inside your mouth as they might be contaminated with infected faeces.
Hepatitis A presently has no specific treatment besides supportive measures. Thankfully, the condition resolves on its own after some weeks. Individuals are mostly advised to rest, avoid alcohol, eat well and stay hydrated. Individuals who lose fluids through vomiting or diarrhea undergo rehydration therapy to replace lost fluids and prevent dehydration.
Acute liver failure may occur in old individuals above 50 or in people who have another liver disease. This is rare and may require liver transplantation in severe cases.