Autoimmune Hepatitis – Symptoms, Causes and Risk Factors

Autoimmune Hepatitis

Autoimmune hepatitis occurs when the immune system turns against the liver cells. This is liver inflammation. The right cause for this inflammation is not known. But the environmental and genetic factors can trigger this disease. If you are not treating your liver, then you can damage the function of your liver and in some cases this could be reason for liver failure. This inflammation should be diagnosed early because when is treated with the right medicines, then these medicines are suppressing the immune system. But when the liver cannot respond to its function or when the autoimmune hepatitis is in advanced stage, then you probably will make liver transplant.

Symptoms of autoimmune hepatitis

Symptoms: There are many signs and symptoms of this disease. They can come and go or they can stay for long time. Some people who are affected with this disease are having few symptoms if their disease it is at early stage, while patients with immune hepatitis in advanced stage can fell some of the next symptoms:

  • Skin rashes
  • Fatigue
  • Joint paints
  • Abdominal discomfort
  • An enlarged liver
  • Women can have loss in their menstruation
  • You can see that your vessels on the skin are damaged. In this case you are having abnormal vessels (which is known as spider angiomas)
  • Yellowing of the skin and white of the eyes (jaundice)

When to see a doctor? You can few symptoms of the list that we gave you above. But in many cases there can be patients who are feeling many symptoms. If you have some of these symptoms, then you should visit your doctor. Talk with him or her about your s symptoms. You should tell your doctor if you had some diseases in the past, what medications you had taken and also to know about your family medical history. Your doctor will make you blood tests (He or she will take a sample of your blood. This will help him or her to distinguish the antibodies in the blood of the autoimmune hepatitis from viral hepatitis. This test can show what type of autoimmune hepatitis do you have) and liver biopsy (Your doctor will make liver biopsy to see how much is your liver damaged. The sample of your liver is sent to laboratory. After this, your doctor will know how much is damaged your liver.).autoimmune hepatitis symptom

Causes of autoimmune hepatitis

Autoimmune hepatitis happens when the immune system of the body is not protecting its own body from viruses and bacteria. Instead the immune system is attacking the liver. This can be reason for chronic inflammation and in many cases there is serious damage to the liver cells. Is not known why the body is attacking against itself. But many studies have shown that this could be caused by viruses or some kinds of drugs that you have taken or by the interaction of the genes which are controlling the autoimmune system. [1,2]

Types of autoimmune hepatitis: Doctors have classified two types of autoimmune hepatitis:

  • Type 1 autoimmune hepatitis: This type is happening in the most people who are affected with this disease. Type 1 autoimmune hepatitis can occur at any age. People who are suffering from this type of disease are also having some of other autoimmune disorders (such as rheumatoid arthritis, ulcerative colitis and celiac disease).
  • Type 2 autoimmune hepatitis: This type of autoimmune hepatitis in the most cases is happening in children and young people. But also there are possibilities for adults to have type 2 autoimmune hepatitis. Also this type of autoimmune hepatitis can be followed with other types of immune disease.

Risk factors: Here are the factors that can increase the risk to have this disease:

  • Heredity: If you have some family member who has suffered from autoimmune hepatitis, then you are having increased chances to get this disease. [3]
  • Being female: This disease can occur in both males and females. But in the most cases this disease is happening in females. [4]
  • Having an autoimmune disease: People who are suffering from autoimmune disease such as hyperthyroidism, celiac disease or rheumatoid arthritis are having more chances to get autoimmune hepatitis. [1,2]
  • A history of certain infections: If you had some kind of infections (hepatitis A, B or C or Epstein-Barr virus, herpes simplex or measles), then your chances to get one of the types of autoimmune hepatitis are increased. [5]


[1] Sucher E, Sucher R, Gradistanac T, et al. Autoimmune hepatitis -Immunologically triggered liver pathogenesis – Diagnostic and therapeutic strategies. Journal of Immunology Research. 2019. Retrieved from

[2]  Fallatah HI, Akbar HO. Autoimmune hepatitis as aunique form of an autoimmune liver disease: Immunological aspects and clinical overview. Autoimmune Diseases. 2012;2012:312817.

[3] Mattner J. Genetic susceptibility to autoimmune liver disease. World Journal of Hepatology. 2011;3(1):1–7.

[4] Guy J, Peters MG. Liver disease in women: The influence of gender on epidemiology, natural history, and patient outcomes. Gastroenterology & Hepatology. 2013;9(10):633–9.

[5] Mackay IR. Historical reflections on autoimmune hepatitis. World Journal of Gastroenterology. 2008;14(21):3292–300.


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