Autoimmune hepatitis is a rare disorder in which the body attacks the liver cells, causing inflammation and eventually leading to cirrhosis and liver failure. This type of hepatitis is a chronic condition that requires lifelong treatment. Fortunately, with the right treatment, people with this disease can still expect to lead a full and healthy life.
Signs and symptoms of autoimmune hepatitis include:
Other non-specific signs and symptoms may include muscle and joint pain, weight loss, low-grade fever, easy bruising or bleeding, dark-colored urine, and light-colored stool. In some cases, jaundice and other signs of liver failure may develop after the disease has been present for some time.
The exact cause of autoimmune hepatitis is not yet known. However, it is believed that genetic, environmental, and lifestyle factors may contribute to its development. A family history of autoimmune disorders, certain viral and bacterial infections, certain medications, and alcohol use have been linked to an increased risk of developing autoimmune hepatitis.
Doctors can diagnose autoimmune hepatitis by performing a physical exam and various laboratory tests, such as blood tests and liver function tests. These examinations and tests help to confirm the diagnosis, determine the extent of the disease, and identify other possible underlying conditions.
Treatment for autoimmune hepatitis includes medications to suppress the immune system, such as corticosteroids, azathioprine, methotrexate, and rituximab. Depending on the patient’s condition, a doctor may recommend other treatments, such as diet and lifestyle modifications, and additional medications to reduce inflammation and relieve symptoms. In more severe cases, a liver transplant may be necessary.
Since the exact cause of autoimmune hepatitis is still unknown, it is impossible to absolutely prevent the disease. However, there are several steps that can be taken to reduce the risk of developing autoimmune hepatitis, including avoiding alcohol, regular exercise, and eating a healthy diet. It is also important to get vaccinated against hepatitis A and B viruses, since these two viruses are known to increase the risk of developing autoimmune hepatitis.
Autoimmune hepatitis is a serious condition that can lead to liver failure if left untreated. Although the exact cause of the disease is still unknown, there are several risk factors that can increase the likelihood of developing the disease. Fortunately, with the right treatment, it is possible to control the disease and prevent further damage to the liver.
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