How to Read Anti Hepatitis A IgM Test ReportAnti-HAV IgM Test:
Hepatitis is an inflammation of the liver, most commonly caused by infection. Hepatitis A virus (HAV) test is done to screen for the presence of Hepatitis A virus in the blood. IgM and IgG antibodies are produced against the virus. IgM antibodies are produced within weeks of infection and hence this test is used to determine if a person is infected with Hepatitis A virus (HAV).
Factors involved to understand the normal range of Anti HAV IgM levels:
- What is the normal range of HAV test?
- What does negative Anti-HAV IgM test result mean?
- What does positive Anti-HAV IgM test result mean?
- Symptoms of a positive Anti-HAV IgM test
- Causes of Hepatitis A infection
- Precautions to be taken to prevent infection
- Are there any risks associated with anti-HAV IgM test?
- What other tests are ordered along with anti-HAV IgM test?
What is the normal range of HAV test?
Normal result of the test is the absence of the antibodies against the virus.
What does negative Anti-HAV IgM test result mean?
The absence of anti-HAV IgM antibody in the blood indicates there is no current or past infection. It could also mean that the virus is in the incubation stage and the antibodies are not at a detectable level at the time of testing.
Negative IgM and positive IgG could indicate an acquired immunity against the virus due to a prior exposure to HAV or vaccination against HAV.
What does positive Anti-HAV IgM test result mean?
Positive IgM test result suggests the presence of Hepatitis A virus in the blood. It indicates an active, acute or recent, within the last 6 months, HAV infection. IgM antibodies develop 2 weeks after a person is infected. It could also indicate a past HAV vaccination.
Symptoms of a positive Anti-HAV IgM test
Hepatitis A infection does not cause signs and symptoms until a few weeks of infection. Not every infected person develops signs and symptoms. When symptoms manifest, they may include:
- Fatigue and low-grade fever
- Sudden nausea and vomiting
- Abdominal pain and discomfort, especially near the liver
- Loss of appetite and unexplained weight loss
- Other symptoms such as intense itching, dark urine, and joint pain
These symptoms are relatively mild and resolve in a few weeks. However, in some cases Hepatitis A infection can result in severe illness that can last for several months.
Causes of Hepatitis A infection
Hepatitis A virus is typically contracted via the consumption of food and water contaminated with fecal waste. The virus travels through the blood stream, spreads, and causes inflammation and swelling. Hepatitis A infection can be caused by:
- Eating food prepared by an HAV infected person
- Eating food prepared in unhygienic conditions
- Coming in contact with people who do not follow hand washing routines
- Eating sewage contaminated raw shellfish
- Practicing unsafe sexual activities with an HAV infected partner
- Consuming contaminated water
The infected person will be contagious for two weeks before and one week after the symptoms appear.
Precautions to be taken to prevent infection
The best way to avoid contracting the infection is to get the hepatitis A vaccine. The vaccine is administered twice, 6-12 months apart. If you plan to travel to a country where Hepatitis A is prevalent, get your vaccination two weeks before you travel. This is because it takes two weeks for the body to develop immunity against the virus.
Precautionary measures can also include thoroughly washing your hands before eating and drinking, drink bottled water, eat food prepared in hygienic conditions, and avoiding eating raw foods from an unsanitary or unhygienic area. Good hygiene and vaccine are the best ways to prevent the risk of contracting and spread of hepatitis A virus.
Are there any risks associated with anti-HAV IgM test?
Having a blood test carries some minor risks. These may include bleeding, infection, bruising, or pain at the site of puncture. Hematoma, accumulation of blood under the skin, is another minor complication of a blood test. Some people may faint or feel lightheaded at the sight of blood. However, these complications do not require treatments and resolve on their own.
What other tests are ordered along with anti-HAV IgM test?
Hepatitis A virus affects the liver and disrupts its normal functioning. This leads to improper processing of toxins and waste products like bilirubin. In such cases, tests such as bilirubin estimation and liver function tests are ordered to confirm the diagnosis of Hepatitis A infection. Testing for hepatitis A immunity by screening for the presence of IgG and IgM against HAV is also performed.
Testing for antibodies against other types of hepatitis virus such as hepatitis B and hepatitis C is also recommended. Hepatitis A antigen test is also suggested to monitor the infection and viral load. Hepatitis A antibody test is considered the most accurate test for diagnosis of the infection. These tests are also used to manage hepatitis by monitoring the progress and effectiveness of the treatment administered.
There are no special preparations required for undergoing the test. Discussing with your doctor about the medications or health problems you may have is important. Herbs, vitamins, supplements, etc. can interfere with the test and give wrong results. Therefore, it is important to discuss these things with your doctor.
There is no specific treatment for hepatitis A. Mild forms of the infection generally resolve on their own. Treatment includes supportive therapy, drinking enough fluids, and consuming a nutritious diet. Once you have had hepatitis A, you will most likely never have it again. This is because the body develops immunity to the infection. Practicing good hygiene and vaccination are the best ways to protect against Hepatitis A infection.