Autoimmune hepatitis

Autoimmune hepatitis is inflammation in your liver that occurs when your body's immune system attacks your liver. Although the cause of autoimmune hepatitis isn't entirely clear, some diseases, toxins and drugs may trigger autoimmune hepatitis in susceptible people, especially women.

Untreated autoimmune hepatitis can lead to scarring of the liver (cirrhosis) and eventually to liver failure. When diagnosed and treated early, however, autoimmune hepatitis often can be controlled with drugs that suppress the immune system.

A liver transplant may be an option when autoimmune hepatitis doesn't respond to drug treatments or when liver disease is advanced.

Symptoms Causes Risk factors Complications

Signs and symptoms of autoimmune hepatitis can range from minor to severe and may come on suddenly or develop over time. Some people have few, if any, recognized problems in the early stages of the disease, whereas others experience signs and symptoms that may include:

  • Fatigue
  • Abdominal discomfort
  • Joint pain
  • Itching (pruritus)
  • Yellowing of the skin and whites of the eyes (jaundice)
  • An enlarged liver
  • Abnormal blood vessels on the skin (spider angiomas)
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Loss of appetite
  • Skin rashes
  • Dark-colored urine
  • In women, loss of menstruation

When to see a doctor
Make an appointment with your doctor if you have any signs or symptoms that worry you.

© 1998-2015 Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research (MFMER). All rights reserved. Terms of use