- By sahlhealth
- May 18, 2021
- 19 views
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 enviromental 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 in cases of advanced liver disease.
-Signs and symptoms of Autoimmune Hepatitis vary from person to person 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
- Loss of menstrual periods
Tests and procedures used to diagnose Autoimmune Hepatitis include:
- Blood tests. Testing a sample of your blood for antibodies can distinguish Autoimmune Hepatitis from viral hepatitis and other conditions with similar symptoms. Antibody tests also help pinpoint the type of Autoimmune Hepatitis you have.
- Liver biopsy. Doctors perform a liver biopsy to confirm the diagnosis and to determine the degree and type of liver damage. During the procedure, a small amount of liver tissue is removed, using a thin needle that's passed into your liver through a small incision in your skin. The sample is then sent to a laboratory for analysis.
-Regardless of which type of Autoimmune Hepatitis you have, the goal of treatment is to slow or stop the immune system attack on your liver. This may help slow the progression of the disease. To meet this goal, you'll need medications that lower immune system activity. The initial treatment is usually prednisone. A second medication, azathioprine (Azasan, Imuran), may be recommended in addition to prednisone. Prednisone, especially when taken long term, can cause a wide range of serious side effects, including diabetes, thinning bones (osteoporosis), broken bones (osteonecrosis), high blood pressure, cataracts, glaucoma and weight gain.Doctors typically prescribe prednisone at a high dose for about the first month of treatment. Then, to reduce the risk of side effects, they gradually reduce the dose over the next several months until reaching the lowest possible dose that controls the disease. Adding azathioprine also helps you avoid prednisone side effects. Most people need to continue taking the prednisone for at least 18 to 24 months, and many remain on it for life. Although you may experience remission a few years after starting treatment, the disease often returns if the drug is discontinued.
-When medications don't halt the progress of the disease or you develop irreversible scarring (cirrhosis) or liver failure, the remaining option is a liver transplant.During a liver transplant, your diseased liver is removed and replaced with a healthy liver from a donor. Liver transplants most often use livers from deceased organ donors. In some cases, a living-donor liver transplant can be used. During a living-donor liver transplant, you receive only a portion of a healthy liver from a living donor. Both livers begin regenerating new cells almost immediately.