HEPATITIS A is a potentially fatal disease caused by the spread of a virus in the stool of an infected person.
It leads to liver inflammation, but some symptoms can be difficult to recognize.
If your eyes or skin turn yellow, it could be a sign of the disease.
This is because your liver is unable to eliminate bilirubin, a substance that causes jaundice, when it’s not working properly.
Hepatitis A is rare in the UK, but some groups are at higher risk. So it’s important to get checked out if you’re experiencing symptoms.
This is especially common if you’ve been abroad in parts of the world where sanitation is poor, including Africa, South Asia, the Far East, the Middle East and South America.
Men who have sex with men and people who inject drugs are also more likely to get the infection.
Other symptoms of the disease include tiredness and general malaise, joint and muscle pain and a high fever, according to the NHS.
Loss of appetite, nausea or discomfort, and pain in the upper right part of your abdomen can also be signs of the condition.
It is an uncomfortable but not usually serious illness, and most people make a full recovery within two months.
However, it can last for several months and can also be fatal if liver failure occurs – when the organ is no longer working properly.
If you have symptoms, your GP can get you a blood test to confirm an infection if you have one.
If you’ve recently come into contact with the virus, it’s also worth getting tested.
You can catch the virus if you eat food prepared by someone who hasn’t washed their hands properly or if you drink dirty water.
What are the symptoms of hepatitis A?
Symptoms can include:
- feeling tired and generally unwell
- joint and muscle pain
- a high temperature (fever)
- loss of appetite
- feel sick or be sick
- Pain in the upper right part of your abdomen
- yellowing of the skin and eyes (jaundice)
- dark urine and light-colored stool
- itchy skin
Source: The NHS
You may also be at risk from raw or undercooked shellfish from contaminated water or from close contact with someone who has the virus.
There are no treatments for hepatitis A, but you can get vaccinated if you are at risk of getting the disease.
Pain relievers such as paracetamol or ibuprofen can be taken to relieve some of the symptoms. Getting enough rest, avoiding alcohol and eating small meals is recommended.
Patients are also advised to stay in a cool, ventilated area, wear loose clothing, and avoid hot baths.
If you suffer from yellow eyes, you should stay away from work or school and avoid sex for at least a week, according to the NHS.
Regular hand washing with soap and water is also recommended.