Autoimmune hepatitis: when the immune system attacks the liver

The autoimmune hepatitis is a disease related to the liver, which tends to occur when there is disorders in the immune system and causes it to activate the attack against liver cells. That's why that organ is achieved decompensate, since the body itself is attacking the cells necessary for the liver to be healthy and function correctly.

It is possible that this disease is not evident in the first medical test, so it is common that it can be confused with the cirrhosis or with other types of hepatitis, as for example occurs with chronic hepatitis or acute hepatitis, usually because it is common to present with symptoms similar to those that arise with any of these 3 conditions.

Previously, autoimmune hepatitis was known as Lupoidbecause it has symptoms similar to systemic lupus erythematosus, for the antinuclear antibodies who are in the disease. Then, it was renamed autoimmune hepatitis, since it had no relation to lupus.

This disease is rare. However, we must be aware of the causes and symptoms to avoid complication, and become chronic.

What is autoimmune hepatitis?

Basically, Autoimmune hepatitis is a liver disease in which the immune system attacks and destroys the liver cells. This means that the natural and normal defense mechanisms of our own organism are those that react negatively against the different liver cells, attacking and destroying them.

It has the peculiarity that it is a hepatitis that can not be prevented, and that tends to become chronic despite the fact that its symptoms improve with the prescription and administration of immunosuppressive drugs.

What are your causes? Why it occurs

There are still no causes that are evident in this disease, so it is said that it can not be prevented from happening.

One of them could be genetics, since in many cases the disease has occurred in relatives of people who have an autoimmune condition. Another possibility is to be exposed in toxic environments, which could aggravate the disease. The truth is that nothing is proven and we must be aware of the health of our liver.

Autoimmune hepatitis is actually rare, affecting mostly girls and young women, although it can occur at any age and also in men.

Autoimmune hepatitis is more common in girls and young women. It has a condition in 70% of the cases in the female sex, there is no exact age at which it can happen, however it is more likely to appear in adolescence or at the entrance to adulthood.

If this disease is discovered when it is already in its chronic stage, it may be treated and stabilized, however it may last for years or even a lifetime. Thus, we must be very aware of the symptoms to control autoimmune hepatitis in time.

Symptoms of autoimmune hepatitis

When these symptoms are present, it is very possible that you are suffering from autoimmune hepatitis. The symptoms are:

  • Fatigue and fatigue.
  • Abdominal discomfort
  • General discomfort.
  • Jaundice.
  • Hepatomegaly
  • Vascular spiders on the skin.
  • Joint pains
  • Pruritus.

In irregular cases, there are patients who do not present any symptoms, and only evidenced in the blood tests are a high level of the transaminases.

If they have cirrhosis of the liver, they may have symptoms such as fluid in the abdominal cavity or ascites; and mental confusion or hepatic encephalopathy.

How is it treated?

The disease has the possibility of controlling it with medication. However, in a very small percentage a complete cure is presented. With treatment it is possible to control liver function tests, although in the long term the disease reappears when leaving the medicines, it is common to control it and keep it to a minimum thanks to a low dose of the treatment that has previously been applied.

The treatment is based on applying immunosuppressive drugs ( prednisone) in combination with azathioprine, depending on the case. The positive is that the treatment is fully functional, optimizes and prolongs the survival of most patients.

The treatment is applied for a few weeks and then reduced little by little, to keep the attacks against the liver under control. If the treatment is suddenly suspended, it is normal that there are relapses, although this time they would be easier to control.

The dose should be reduced, and if prednisone is applied for a long time, side effects may occur: diabetes, loss of bone mass, cataracts, high blood pressure.

As each disease and each patient are different, not everyone accepts prednisone in the same way, they may also try budesonide, cyclosporine, tacrolimus and myofelonate.

When proper treatment is received, the patient is likely to improve markedly. Otherwise, as in a hepatic cirrhosis, they may not accept treatment in the same way and if that is the diagnosis, then a liver transplant should be considered.

It is not possible to self-medicate or self-diagnose, it is completely necessary to make laboratory tests and magnetic resonances approved by the doctor, so that the presence of the disease is verified, and that it is not another one that presents with the same symptoms. This article is published for informational purposes only. It can not and should not replace the consultation with a Physician. We advise you to consult your Trusted Doctor. ThemesLiver diseases

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