Hepatitis E is a virus that infects your liver. It can cause your liver to swell up.
Most people with hepatitis E get better within a few months. Usually it doesn’t lead to long-term illness or liver damage like some other forms of hepatitis do. But hepatitis E can be dangerous for pregnant women or anyone with weak immune systems, including the elderly or people who are ill.
The hepatitis E virus spreads through poop. You can catch it if you drink or eat something that has been in contact with the stool of someone who has the virus. Hepatitis E is more common in parts of the world with poor handwashing habits and lack of clean water.
You also can get hepatitis E if you eat undercooked meat from infected animals, such as pigs or deer. Less often, you can get the virus from raw shellfish that comes from tainted water.
You might not have any. If you do have symptoms, they may start anywhere from 2 to 6 weeks after your infection. They may include:
- Mild fever
- Feeling very tired
- Less hunger
- Feeling sick to your stomach
- Throwing up
- Belly pain
- Dark pee
- Light-colored poop
- Skin rash or itching
- Joint pain
- Yellowish skin or eyes
Your doctor will ask for your medical history and details about your symptoms. Tell your doctor about any recent travel. Tell them if you think you might have had contact with water contaminated by sewage.
Your doctor will use a blood test or a stool test to diagnose hepatitis E.
In most cases, hepatitis E goes away on its own in about 4-6 weeks. These steps can help ease your symptoms:
- Eat healthy foods
- Drink lots of water
- Avoid alcohol
Check with your doctor before you take any medicine that may damage your liver, such as acetaminophen.
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