The immune system recognizes bacteria, viruses, or other foreign cells that could pose a potential threat to the health of the body. In the case of an autoimmune disease the patient's own immune system attacks the body’s own cells and organs. Multiple sclerosis (MS) and rheumatoid arthritis are two common examples of autoimmune diseases. When the body attacks the cells of the liver, the resulting condition is autoimmune hepatitis. It is a rare, chronic illness and should be treated by a gastroenterologist.
Autoimmune hepatitis is a serious condition that can cause scarring of the liver and eventually, liver failure. Patients are most commonly diagnosed in adolescence or as young adults. There is a less common type of this disease can be found in children. Many patients have other autoimmune disorders such as celiac disease, Crohn’s disease, and PSC.
Symptoms of autoimmune hepatitis include fatigue, joint pain, rashes, dark yellow urine, pain near the liver, light colored stool, and yellowing of the skin or eyes. The normal course of treatment includes medicine to suppress the immune system. Because of the seriousness of the disease and the effectiveness of the treatment, the earlier the diagnosis the better. In order to diagnose autoimmune hepatitis, a doctor will perform a physical exam, blood tests, and a liver biopsy.
Contact Dr. Islam for more information.