Autoimmune Hepatitis

Overview:

Autoimmune Hepatitis is a disease of the liver that occurs when the body’s immune system inappropriately attacks the cells of the liver. It affects women much more commonly than men. It is often associated with other autoimmune disorders.

Symptoms

Patients often present with jaundice, or yellowing of the eyes and skin.  They may experience generalized fatigue, itching and discomfort in the right upper abdomen.  Other patients may have no symptoms and the disease may only be evident by the presence of abnormal liver enzymes in the blood.

Testing

Diagnosis of Autoimmune Hepatitis is initially made by looking for antibodies in the blood associated with this condition. These include anti-nuclear antibody, anti-smooth muscle antibody, and anti-liver kidney microsomal antibody. A liver biopsy may also be necessary to confirm the diagnosis and to assess the degree of inflammation and/or scarring present within the liver.

 

Treatment

Treatment typically involves the prescription of immunosuppressive drugs, such as steroids or Azathioprine. Chronic treatment is often necessary as the disease will frequently relapse when medical therapy is discontinued.

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