Uncommonly, complications of hepatitis A require hospitalization. A small percentage of people will require hospitalization, usually for dehydration or complications of liver failure such as clotting problems or confusion. Fulminant hepatic failure, the worst-case scenario for hepatitis A, may require evaluation for liver transplant. Fulminant hepatic failure is a rare but rapidly progressive failure of the liver that can happen in serious cases of hepatitis. Signs of fulminant hepatitis are worsening jaundice, confusion, excessive sleepiness, and easy bruising or bleeding.
Bed rest and a good diet may be helpful in the early stages of recovery. Some people experience nausea later in the day, so it may be best to eat a low-fat diet early in the day. In general, people are allowed to start their normal activities after they have the energy to do so, usually one to two months after the onset of the disease.
Avoid alcohol and other substances that can damage the liver. Some common drugs, such as acetominophen, are toxic to the liver, if taken in high doses. If you are diagnosed with hepatitis A, you should consult with your doctor to be sure that any medications you are taking are not dangerous.
Your doctor is the best source of information on the drug treatment choices available to you.
People who have already had hepatitis A do not need to be vaccinated. Infection and recovery from hepatitis A confers lifelong immunity. Because some people are infected by the virus but do not have classic symptoms, people who live in areas with a high rate of hepatitis A or those who are members of risk groups may want to have a blood test before they are vaccinated. If they have been exposed to the virus, there is no need for them to be vaccinated.
Post-exposure use of immunoglobulin is indicated for household or intimate contacts of the individual who has acute hepatitis A.
The prognosis for recovery from uncomplicated hepatitis A is very good. For all ages, the death rate for hepatitis A is less than one percent. About 80% of those who have symptoms from hepatitis A recover fully in less than 8 weeks
. Others may have a more prolonged course, or suffer from repeated episodes of the disease. Most will eventually recover with no lasting problems.
Your doctor will schedule regular follow-up visits to help track the course of the infection. Call your physician if you feel unusually poor, are having trouble concentrating or are really sleepy, or are suffering from easy bruising.
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