Hepatitis A and E usually resolve after a period of four to eight weeks. They do not cause chronic hepatitis, and in most cases, no special treatment is necessary unless your immune system is suppressed and/or you have had a solid organ transplantation. You are not confined to bed while you recuperate. Once the jaundice disappears, you can safely return to work. We will discuss with you whether you need special treatment or medication.
Hepatitis A and E Prevention
Hepatitis A: Hepatitis A vaccination is recommended for all adults who are considered at risk, which include those traveling to areas where hepatitis A is common, those who use injections for medications, people who use illegal drugs, men who have sex with men, patients who already have chronic liver disease, health care workers and food handlers.
If you believe you were exposed to hepatitis A and have not been vaccinated, we can treat you with immune globulin, which is used to prevent the disease shortly after exposure. Immune globulin can be also given to those who are allergic to the hepatitis A vaccine or prefer not to get vaccinated. One dose of immune globulin can provide temporary protection up to three months.
Hepatitis E: Currently there are no vaccines against the hepatitis E virus, although much research is underway for development. If you are traveling to a country where hepatitis E is widespread, avoid contaminated food and water sources. A vaccination against hepatitis A may not protect you against hepatitis E.
Hepatitis A and E Complications
Rarely, the disease does not resolve, and you may experience complications from hepatitis. Fulminant hepatitis or acute liver failure is rarely associated with hepatitis A and E. A patient with fulminant hepatitis begins to deteriorate rapidly and may present with confusion (hepatic encephalopathy). This is seen in patients with chronic liver disease or people during pregnancy. There is even a risk of coma and liver and kidney failure.
This condition is rare. Careful management and thorough care provide the best hope for recovery. Liver transplantation may be lifesaving.