Autoimmune Hepatitis: Causes, Symptoms, Treatment, Risk Factors, Diagnosis, Complications, Prevention
Autoimmune Hepatitis: Causes, Symptoms, Treatment, Risk Factors, Diagnosis, Complications, Prevention December 3, 2018 tweet What is Autoimmune Hepatitis?
Autoimmune hepatitis is a chronic disease of unknown cause and is characterized by continuing hepatocellular inflammation and necrosis and has a tendency to progress to cirrhosis.
Viruses cause many types of hepatitis. Autoimmune hepatitis (AIH) is one exception. This type of liver disease occurs when your immune system attacks your liver cells. AIH is a chronic condition that can result in cirrhosis (scarring) of the liver. Ultimately, it can lead to liver failure. Types of Autoimmune Hepatitis
There are two types of AIH based on serum tests: Type I is more common, tends to affect young women, and is associated with other autoimmune diseases. This is the most common form of AIH in the United States. Type II primarily affects girls between the ages of 2 and 14.
While AIH generally occurs in adolescence or early adulthood, it can develop at any age. Symptoms of Autoimmune Hepatitis
Symptoms of AIH range from mild to severe. In the early stages, you may have no symptoms, but in later stages, symptoms can appear suddenly. They may also slowly develop over time.
AIH symptoms include: abnormal blood vessels on the skin (spider angiomas) pale-colored stools itching caused by a build-up of bile fatigue yellowing of the skin and eyes (jaundice) vomiting joint pain Diagnosing Autoimmune Hepatitis
AIH can be easily confused with other illnesses. Symptoms are very similar to those of viral hepatitis. To make a proper diagnosis, blood testing is required to: rule out viral hepatitis determine the type of AIH you have check your liver function
Blood tests are also used to measure the levels of specific antibodies in your blood. Antibodies associated with AIH include: anti-smooth muscle antibody anti-nuclear antibody anti-liver kidney microsome type I antibody
Blood tests can also measure the amount of immunoglobulin G (IgG) antibodies in your blood. IgG antibodies help the body fight infection and inflammation.
A liver biopsy may sometimes be necessary to diagnose AIH. It can reveal the type and severity of your liver damage and inflammation. The procedure involves removing a small piece of your liver tissue with a long needle and sending it to a laboratory for testing. Treatments for Autoimmune Hepatitis
Treatment can slow down, stop, and sometimes reverse liver damage. Approximately 65 to 80 percent of people with AIH will go into remission. However, remission can take up to three years. Immunosuppressant drugs
Immunosuppressant drugs can be used to stop the immune system’s attack. Such drugs include 6-mercaptopurine and azathioprine. Taking immunosuppressant drugs may compromise your body’s ability to fight other infections. Corticosteroids
Corticosteroids, usually in the form of prednisone, can directly treat liver inflammation. They can also serve as immunosuppressants. You will likely need to take prednisone for a minimum of 18-24 months. Some people must continue taking the drug for life to prevent AIH from recurring.
Prednisone may cause serious side effects including: high blood pressure