Autoimmune hepatitis is liver inflammation that occurs when your body's immune system turns against liver cells. The exact cause of autoimmune hepatitis is unclear, but genetic and environmental factors appear to interact over time in triggering the disease.
Untreated autoimmune hepatitis can lead to scarring of the liver (cirrhosis) and eventually to liver failure. When diagnosed and treated early, however, autoimmune hepatitis often can be controlled with drugs that suppress the immune system.
A liver transplant may be an option when autoimmune hepatitis doesn't respond to drug treatments or when liver disease is advanced.
Signs and symptoms of autoimmune hepatitis can range from minor to severe and may come on suddenly. Some people have few, if any, recognized problems in the early stages of the disease, whereas others experience signs and symptoms that may include:
- Abdominal discomfort
- Yellowing of the skin and whites of the eyes (jaundice)
- An enlarged liver
- Abnormal blood vessels on the skin (spider angiomas)
- Skin rashes
- Joint pains
- In women, loss of menstruation
Autoimmune hepatitis can be diagnosed through a combination of lab testing as well as by performing a liver biopsy.
If you believe you have autoimmune hepatitis or you have been diagnosed with autoimmune hepatitis, contact your doctor. You can also call 978-459-6737 or click here to request an appointment.