Blood tests are widely available to accurately diagnose hepatitis A, including tests for antibodies, or the affected person’s immune response to hepatitis A proteins. This immune response is conclusively demonstrated by the presence of Immunoglobulin M (IgM) antibodies, indicating acute disease, and immunoglobulin G (IgG), indicating a past infection. The IgG antibodies are present for life, indicating immunity.
Once a clinical infection is established, there is no specific treatment for hepatitis A. Affected individuals generally suffer from loss of appetite, so the main concern is ensuring a patient receives adequate nutrition and avoids permanent liver damage. An individual’s perception of the severity of fatigue or malaise is the best determinant of the need for rest.
Treatment of those suffering from fulminant hepatic failure depends largely on the affected person’s status. Those who have not become encephalopathic generally undergo an intense course of supportive treatment. But for those whose liver failure is so complete that it has led to encephalopathy or cerebral edema, timely liver transplantation is often the only option. Unfortunately, many individuals with irreversible liver failure do not receive a transplant because of contraindications or the unavailability of donor livers.