Auto-Immune Hepatitis

Introduction

Autoimmune hepatitis is a rare cause of long-term hepatitis in which the immune system attacks and damages the liver. Diagnosis is usually made by taking a careful medical history, performing a physical examination, arranging of blood tests and a liver biopsy.

People may have other autoimmune diseases. Some of the conditions associated with autoimmune hepatitis include: thyroid disease, pernicious anaemia (a deficiency of vitamin B12) & vitiligo (pale patches on the skin). Blood tests used to identify immunoglobulins and autoantibodies.These are antibodies in the blood that react with the body’s own cells and include antinuclear antibodies (ANA) or smooth muscle antibodies (SMA).

Treatment

Once the diagnosis has been made, treatment is almost always required.The treatment used is called immunosuppression. This therapy uses a type of steroids, known as corticosteroids, to reduce (suppress) the ability of your immune system to fight infection.

It is usual to start treatment with a relatively high dose of steroids, usually prednisone or prednislone. When the inflammation is brought under control, the dose can be reduced. Usually other drugs are added to allow for a lower dose of steroids.

Another immunosuppressant, azathioprine, is most commonly used in combination with steroids. This drug is slower acting and has fewer side effects than steroids. Other drugs such as cyclosporin, tacrolimus, mycophenolate and D-penicillamine may also be considered.

Course & Complication

Autoimmune hepatitis appears more often to be a controllable rather then a curable disease, therefore most patients need long-term maintenance therapy. It may progress to liver failure (cirrhosis) over the longtime.

Prevention

You will not develop AIH by exposure to someone else with the disease. It is not thought to be due to a virus and has nothing to do with alcohol.

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Gujarat, India.

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