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Hepatitis A Testing & Treatment

On This Page: Testing | Antibody Test | When to Test | Diagnosis | Treatment | Vaccine

Hepatitis A Lab Testing

While a doctor can ask questions to get an idea of what may be going wrong, lab tests are needed to diagnose a person with the hepatitis A virus (HAV). Since there are five hepatitis viruses, blood tests can distinguish which type you have. If blood tests confirm infection, other tests like imaging or a biopsy of the liver can be done through a healthcare provider to assess liver damage.

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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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Types of Testing

A doctor may suspect hepatitis if you are experiencing certain symptoms like fatigue, nausea, and jaundice. To confirm what is happening, your doctor may request certain tests.1

Antibody Tests

Antibody blood tests are done by taking a small sample of blood and analyzing it for the presence of specific antibodies. Antibodies are proteins the immune system produces when trying to fight off the virus. For hepatitis A, the antibodies typically tested are called immunoglobulin M (IgM) and immunoglobulin G (IgG).

Through STDcheck.com, you can order the tests yourself, receive results, and therefore find out if you are infected or not without the doctor’s visit.

Imaging

Imaging tests of the liver (ultrasonography, computed tomography, etc.) can expose abnormalities such as inflammation, changes in size, and tumors. While these can be symptoms of a hepatitis infection, imaging tests alone cannot identify the specific cause or determine the particular liver disease that is affecting the organ.

Biopsy

In a liver biopsy, a section of tissue is taken from the liver by injecting a needle into your belly. Then, the tissue is evaluated under a microscope for identifying features of a disease. Biopsies generally do not require overnight hospital stays, but an anesthetic may be necessary. These tests are more commonly ordered for chronic hepatitis B or C patients.

Our Hepatitis A Antibody Test

When the body’s immune system recognizes the hepatitis A virus, the first antibodies produced to fight the infection are IgM antibodies. Our FDA-cleared hepatitis A test looks for these specific antibodies to determine if an individual has a current or recent HAV infection. IgM antibodies typically take 2 to 3 weeks to develop after first being infected, and become detectable in blood tests before symptoms even begin to appear.

To test through STDcheck.com, simply select the lab you would like to go to, purchase your tests, and then supply your blood sample to the lab at your earliest convenience, no appointment necessary. Results will be available in your account in as soon as 2 business days.

Who Should Get Tested for Hepatitis A?

If you think you may have been exposed to the hepatitis A virus, you should get tested. Hepatitis A is typically spread when someone unknowingly ingests infected fecal matter from contaminated objects, food, or drinks.

According to the CDC, risk factors that increase the chances of acquiring the virus may include:2

  • Direct contact with someone who has hepatitis A
  • Traveling to locations where hepatitis A is common
  • Participation in anal sex or oral-anal contact
  • Use of drugs, both injection and non-injection drugs
  • Clotting factor disorders
  • Working with nonhuman primates

When to Get Tested

It is important to allow time for the body to develop antibodies so that they are detectable in a blood test. Hepatitis A has an incubation period of approximately 28 days, but it ranges from 15-50 days. Once you are within the incubation period, you can be accurately tested for hepatitis A.

Diagnosis

Doctors will usually ask some questions regarding your symptoms, risk factors, and travel habits, then after some blood tests, they would be able to diagnose you officially.

What Your Results Mean

An antibody test may come back with the following:

  • Positive IgM results indicate that the antibodies were found in your blood, meaning you may have an acute or recent HAV infection.
  • Negative IgM results indicate the antibodies were not found in your blood, meaning there is no active infection.

Treatment

Because hepatitis A typically leaves the body without medical assistance, there isn’t a treatment for it. There are over-the-counter medications to help with symptoms of hepatitis A, but as long as the individual is well-rested and stays hydrated, they should be able to go through the course of the illness and heal over without any lasting damage to their liver function.

It’s also recommended to avoid drinking alcohol because it can worsen the liver inflammation and make it more difficult for it to heal. You should talk with your doctor if you are taking any medications that are hard on your liver to see if it is safe to continue taking them while you are healing from the hepatitis A infection.

Can You Get Re-Infected?

No, you cannot get re-infected with HAV. Once you have had hepatitis A, your immune system produces immunoglobulin G (IgG), which are antibodies that usually remain in your body forever. Their purpose is to protect your body against the virus so that you are never infected with it again. IgG antibodies are also produced in the body when the vaccine is administered.

Vaccine

The hepatitis A vaccine is an inactivated vaccine. Inactivated vaccines use the killed version of the virus that causes a disease, meaning the antigens of the virus cannot duplicate in the vaccinated person or cause illness. This is especially good for people with weakened immune systems (HIV, diabetes, etc.), and they should not need special care or monitoring after immunization.

However, because it is an inactivated vaccine, it requires 2 doses (given roughly 6 months apart) for the vaccine to work long-term.

Who Should Get Vaccinated for Hepatitis A?

Anyone that has not been vaccinated for hepatitis A should consider becoming immunized if they are not already immune due to a past infection.

However, according to the CDC, it is recommended that the following people be vaccinated against HAV:

  • Children at 1 year of age
  • Those with unstable housing or experiencing homelessness
  • Persons who are at a higher risk of acquiring the virus
  • Persons who are at increased risk for complications from hepatitis A
  • Any person who wishes to obtain immunity against the virus

What is Postexposure Prophylaxis (PEP)?

Those that know they have been exposed to hepatitis A and have never been vaccinated against the virus should seek postexposure prophylaxis as long as they are within 2 weeks after exposure. PEP’s job is to prevent the disease if administered at the right time.

PEP is recommended to those in close personal contact with those who have a confirmed hepatitis A infection. According to the CDC, these persons include:

  • Household members and sex partners
  • Those who have shared injection drugs with someone with hepatitis A
  • Caretakers not using appropriate personal protective equipment
  1. “Hepatitis A Testing.” LabCorp. https://www.labcorp.com/help/patient-test-info/hepatitis-a-testing
  2. “Hepatitis A Questions and Answers for the Public.” CDC. https://www.cdc.gov/hepatitis/hav/afaq.htm

Medically Reviewed by on February 4, 2020


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