Don’t let hepatitis spoil your holiday this summer

Hepatitis: do you know your A B C?

It's easy to forget about food hygiene, especially when you are travelling or on holiday.

However, that is often the time when illnesses such as Hepatitis A can strike...

Hepatitis refers to an inflammation of the liver. There are different types and causes, but the symptoms can be similar.

The most common types of hepatitis are Hepatitis A, Hepatitis B and Hepatitis C.

Some types are caused by a virus, some will pass without any serious problems, while others can be long-lasting (chronic) and cause scarring of the liver (cirrhosis), loss of liver function and, in some cases, liver cancer. These types usually result from drinking too much alcohol or an autoimmune condition.

Short-term (acute) hepatitis often has no noticeable symptoms, so you may not realise you have it; however, if you do have symptoms, they may include:

  • Muscle and joint pain
  • A high temperature
  • Feeling and being sick
  • Feeling unusually tired all the time
  • A general sense of feeling unwell
  • Loss of appetite
  • Tummy pain.

Later, symptoms may include:

  • Dark urine
  • Pale, grey-coloured poo
  • Itchy skin
  • Yellowing of the eyes and skin (jaundice)
  • The upper right part of your tummy becoming swollen and tender.

Travel safe!

General Hepatitis A prevention tips when travelling:

  • Wash your hands with soap after using the loo
  • Only consume food that has just been cooked
  • Only drink commercially bottled water/boiled water if you're unsure of local sanitation
  • Only eat peelable fruits if sanitation is unreliable
  • Only eat raw vegetables if you are sure they have been cleaned thoroughly
  • Get a Hepatitis A vaccine before traveling to places where hepatitis may be endemic.

Hepatitis A is usually acquired via the consumption of food and drink contaminated with the faeces (poo) of an infected person and is most common in countries where sanitation is poor.

It normally passes within a few months although it can sometimes be severe and life threatening. There's no specific treatment for it, other than to relieve symptoms like pain, nausea and itching. A vaccination is available for at-risk people so speak to your occupational health provider or GP for advice if you have any concerns.

Find out more about Hepatitis B & C

Read more