Autoimmune Hepatitis

Autoimmune hepatitis is a disease in which the body’s immune system attacks liver cells. This immune disorder causes inflammation of the liver, also called hepatitis. Autoimmune hepatitis is typically chronic, meaning it can last for years and can lead to cirrhosis (scarring and hardening) of the liver. The disease is usually quite serious and, if not treated, can get worse over time.

Symptoms

Symptoms of autoimmune hepatitis include:

  • Abdominal pain or discomfort
  • Fatigue
  • Itching
  • Loss of appetite
  • Nausea or vomiting

Risk Factors

Risk factors for developing autoimmune hepatitis include:

  • Autoimmune disorders
  • Type 1 diabetes
  • Thyroiditis
  • Graves’ disease
  • Sjogren’s syndrome

When to See a Doctor

Occasional symptoms such as fatigue, nausea and/or vomiting may result from a number of causes and often resolve on their own. If your symptoms have not resolved within a few days, or if they persist or recur, it’s time for a thorough exam and consultation with a specialist. Autoimmune hepatitis can cause serious complications if left untreated.

Treatment Options

Treatment options for individuals with autoimmune hepatitis vary and may include the following:

  • Drug therapy

Diagnostic Testing

The foremost diagnostic “test” for any condition is a thorough exam and consultation with a physician, including a review of your individual and family history. In addition, your physician may recommend any of the following tests or procedures, which may provide further diagnostic value:

  • Blood tests
  • Imaging tests (which may include one or more of the following: ultrasound, x-ray, CT scan, MRI scan)
  • Liver Biopsy

Additional Testing

In some cases, standard diagnostic tests are not conclusive and additional testing may be necessary to confirm a diagnosis. These may include:

  • Imaging tests (which may include one or more of the following: ultrasound, x-ray, CT scan, MRI scan)

Learn More

Learn more about autoimmune hepatitis with resources from the National Institutes of Health

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