There's currently no cure for hepatitis A, but it will normally pass on its own within a couple of months. You can usually look after yourself at home.

However, it's still a good idea to see your GP for a blood test if you think you could have hepatitis A, as more serious conditions can have similar symptoms.

Your GP can also advise you about treatments and they may carry out regular blood tests to check how well your liver is working.

Go back to your GP if your symptoms get worse or haven't started to improve within a couple of months.

Relieving your symptoms

The following advice may help:

  • Get plenty of rest, especially during the initial stages of the infection, as you will probably feel very tired.
  • Take painkillers such as paracetamol or ibuprofen if you have any aches and pains – how much you can take depends on how well your liver is working; ask your GP for advice.
  • Reduce itching by maintaining a cool, well-ventilated environment, wearing loose clothing and avoiding hot baths or showers – your GP may recommend using an antihistamine in severe cases.
  • Eat smaller, lighter meals to help reduce nausea and vomiting – your GP can prescribe a medication called an antiemetic if the problem persists.
  • Avoid alcohol – drinking alcohol can put additional strain on your liver, so avoid it until your GP says it's safe.

Preventing the spread of infection

While you're ill, it's also important to try to reduce the risk of spreading the infection to others.

You should:

  • Stay off work or school until at least a week after your jaundice or other symptoms started.
  • Avoid preparing food for others if possible.
  • Wash your hands with soap and water regularly – particularly after going to the toilet and before preparing food.
  • Avoid sharing towels and wash soiled laundry separately on a hot cycle.
  • Clean the toilet, flush handles and taps more frequently than usual.
  • Avoid having sex while you're infectious – hepatitis A is most infectious from around two weeks before the symptoms start until about a week after they first develop. Ask your GP for advice about this.

Any close contacts, such as people who live in the same house as you, may be advised to have the hepatitis A vaccine to reduce their risk of becoming infected.

Page last reviewed: 20/04/2016

Next review due: 20/04/2018