​Hepatitis A


Hepatitis is a disease that causes the liver to become inflamed.

Hepatitis A (HAV) is a type of hepatitis disease that is caused by consuming contaminated food or water. The disease can also be contracted through certain sexual practices with an infected individual.

Cases of hepatitis can range from mild to severe, meaning that although many people recover from HAV without any permanent negative damage, some suffer major consequences that could be life-threatening.

HAV is easily preventable by practicing good hygiene (e.g. keeping your hands clean) and through effective HAV vaccinations. It is common practice for most children to receive these vaccinations between the ages of 12 and 14 months.

It is sometimes possible not to notice any symptoms of HAV at all. However you may sometimes start to notice mild symptoms after about two weeks. These symptoms are often more visible in adults than they are in children, and the severity of the disease and mortality tends to increase amongst the older age groups. Noticeable symptoms of a mild (acute) case of HAV might include:

  • Decreased appetite

  • Weight loss

  • Fever

  • Nausea

  • Vomiting

  • Fatigue

  • Muscle or joint pain

  • Diarrhoea

  • Jaundice, symptoms of which include yellow eyes and skin, and darker urine

  • Pain in your abdomen, particularly in the vicinity of your liver on your right side below your lower ribs

HAV is contagious, and the faeces of a sick individual can infect another individual. The acute symptoms of HAV are usually fully recoverable after a short period of time. However, if the disease rapidly progresses (chronic), the symptoms will start to become greater and more worrisome, and could potentially cause death.

You should visit your doctor working with the Internal Medicine Service Line at the Aga Khan University Hospital if you notice any of the symptoms associated to Hepatitis A. If your child is exhibiting symptoms of Hepatitis A, consult a paediatrician at the Children's Hospital for immediate diagnosis and treatment.

If you think you may be at risk of contracting HAV or you have spent time with an infected individual, you should receive a Hepatitis A vaccine or immunoglobulin therapy from the Family Health Services within two weeks of the exposure to try and inhibit the virus from progressing.

Your time with your doctor maybe limited, so make sure to prepare for your visit beforehand. Here are some tips to help get you started.

To test for HAV, your doctor will ask about your medical history, take a blood sample for testing and conduct a physical examination.

Further tests could include a liver biopsy, liver function tests (removing a small sample of liver tissue) or an ultrasound.

There is no specific treatment for HAV. In most cases of HAV the disease is usually recoverable on its own, and the clearing and healing process can take from about several weeks to a few months. There are some coping techniques available that target the symptoms of the disease, aiming at maintaining comfort as well as an adequate nutritional balance. These include:

  • Bed rest: to deal with signs of tiredness , sickness and fatigue

  • Coping with nausea: try getting enough calories and nutrition by eating smaller snacks throughout the day, as you find eating full meals difficult.  

  • Prescription medications: your doctor at the Children's Hospital or Internal Medicine Service Line at the Aga Khan University Hospital, Karachi, may prescribe medication to relieve symptoms.

  • Regular visits to your doctor to assess progress of recovery

The Aga Khan University Hospital offers various support services to help with managing or recovering from the disease or condition. These include but are not limited to nutrition, physiotherapy, rehabilitation, specialized clinics and some patient support groups. Your doctor or nurse will advise you accordingly.
 
The Aga Khan University Hospital offers financial assistance to those who are in need and fulfil the eligibility criteria. For further information, you can contact the Patient Welfare Department. You can find the contact number of the Patient Welfare Department in the ‘Important Numbers’ section on the website homepage.
 
The financial counselling staff is available during office hours, at the main PBSD (Patient Business Services Department), to answer your financial queries on treatments’ costs and authorize admissions on partial deposit as per hospital policies allow. The financial counsellor in the emergency room is open 24/7. You can find the contact number of the Patient Business Services in the ‘Important Numbers’ section on the website homepage.

Your doctor and or nurse will give you specific instructions about the prescribed medication. Please ensure that you take or use the prescribed medicine as advised. It can be dangerous to your health if you self-prescribe. Please inform the doctor or nurse beforehand if you have experienced any adverse reactions to any medications in the past. If you experience any symptoms of drug poisoning, overdose or severe reaction please contact the Pharmacy Service at The Aga Khan University Hospital immediately. You can find the contact number of the Pharmacy Services in the ‘Important Numbers’ section on the website homepage.




The information provided on our website is for educational purposes and not intended to be a substitute for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. You should always seek the advice of your doctor or other healthcare professional provider.