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Hepatitis A Symptoms

On This Page: Symptoms | Complications | When to See Doctor

Hepatitis is an inflammation of the liver. Habits like heavy drinking can cause hepatitis, but viral infections can also cause hepatitis, such as hepatitis A, B, C, D, or E.

Symptoms of the hepatitis A virus (HAV) usually don’t appear until you’ve been carrying the virus for a few weeks. Some people with hepatitis A don’t ever develop signs or symptoms.¹ When symptoms do appear, they can be relatively mild and go away in a few weeks.

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Hepatitis A is a viral liver disease that can be easily spread from sexual activities, consuming contaminated food/drinks, or from improper hand washing. If you think you may have been exposed, order our fast & affordable Hepatitis A test.

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Symptoms of Hepatitis A

Symptoms of hepatitis A may include the following:2

  • Fatigue
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Loss of appetite
  • Low-grade fever
  • Joint pain
  • Dark urine
  • Sudden nausea and vomiting
  • Clay-colored bowel movements
  • Abdominal pain or discomfort, especially by your liver

When do symptoms appear?

Signs of hepatitis A can start appearing four weeks after exposure, but cases have been reported where symptoms started as early as two weeks and as late as seven weeks post-exposure.

How long do they last?

It varies from person to person, but usually, the older someone is, the longer the symptoms may last. According to the CDC, some 10-15% of people with hepatitis A can experience severe illness for up to 6 months.3

Complications

Can it be fatal? 

Hepatitis A, unlike other types of hepatitis, does not progress into chronic liver disease. However, in extremely rare cases, hepatitis A can become severe and cause liver failure that may be fatal without proper medical attention.4

When should I see a doctor?

If you haven’t experienced symptoms yet but suspect you’ve been exposed to the hepatitis A virus, you should consider going to the doctor. As long as you are within two weeks of exposure, you can still get the hepatitis A vaccine or an injection of immunoglobulin (antibody) which can protect you from infection. You should also see a doctor if you tested positive for hepatitis A and would like to receive treatment.

You should also see a doctor if you are experiencing symptoms and you recently:

  • Traveled out of the country, especially if you went somewhere with poor sanitation
  • Ate at a restaurant that reported a hepatitis A outbreak
  • Were in close proximity to someone who was diagnosed with hepatitis A
  • Used intravenous drugs
  • Ate raw shellfish

 

  1. "University Health Service." Viral Hepatitis and Hepatitis A Outbreak | University Health Service. https://uhs.umich.edu/hepatitis
  2. "Hepatitis A Questions and Answers for the Public | Division of Viral Hepatitis | CDC." Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. https://www.cdc.gov/hepatitis/hav/afaq.htm
  3. Matheny, Samuel C., and Joe E. Kingery. "Hepatitis A." American Family Physician. https://www.aafp.org/afp/2012/1201/p1027.html
  4. "Hepatitis A." Cedars. https://www.cedars-sinai.org/health-library/diseases-and-conditions/h/hepatitis-a.html

Medically Reviewed by on February 13, 2020


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