Hepatitis A is a highly contagious viral infection of the liver. Hepatitis A can cause inflammation and compromise the liver's ability to function properly. Hepatitis A is most often transmitted through contaminated food or water, or from close contact with a person who is infected. Mild cases often don't require treatment, and most people who contract hepatitis A recover completely without permanent liver damage. Good hygiene practices, such as frequent hand-washing, are the best way to protect against the hepatitis A virus. A vaccine is also available.
Symptoms of hepatitis A usually emerge two to seven weeks after exposure to the virus. Symptoms, which usually last about two months, include fatigue, nausea, loss of appetite, right-sided abdominal pain, fever, and sore muscles. Certain people may also experience jaundice (yellowing of the skin) along with dark urine and clay-colored stools.
Hepatitis A is diagnosed using blood tests. Once diagnosed, it's important to take measures to avoid spreading the virus to others. With plenty of rest, a healthy diet and proper hydration, most people will recover completely without intervention.