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Autoimmune hepatitis is a chronic disease in which your body’s immune system attacks the liver and causes inflammation and liver damage. Without treatment, autoimmune hepatitis may get worse and lead to complications, such as cirrhosis.
Common symptoms of autoimmune hepatitis include feeling tired, pain in your joints, nausea, poor appetite, pain over your liver, and jaundice. Many people with autoimmune hepatitis have no symptoms. Experts aren’t sure what causes autoimmune hepatitis.
Doctors diagnose autoimmune hepatitis based on a combination of information from your medical history, a physical exam, blood tests, imaging tests, and liver biopsy. No single test can diagnose autoimmune hepatitis. In most cases, doctors order a combination of tests, including a liver biopsy, to make a diagnosis.
Doctors treat autoimmune hepatitis with medicines that suppress your immune system, most often corticosteroids and immunosuppressants. These medicines may cause side effects. If autoimmune hepatitis leads to liver failure or liver cancer, you may need a liver transplant.
Doctors may recommend that people who take corticosteroids to treat autoimmune hepatitis also take dietary supplements of calcium and vitamin D to help prevent osteoporosis. If you have autoimmune hepatitis, you should eat a healthy, well-balanced diet.
The NIDDK conducts and supports clinical trials in many diseases and conditions, including liver diseases. The trials look to find new ways to prevent, detect, or treat disease and improve quality of life.
This content is provided as a service of the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases
(NIDDK), part of the National Institutes of Health. NIDDK translates and disseminates research findings to increase knowledge and understanding about health and disease among patients, health professionals, and the public. Content produced by NIDDK is carefully reviewed by NIDDK scientists and other experts.
NIDDK would like to thank:
Michele Tana, M.D., M.H.S., University of California, San Francisco