- Hepatitis is a general term that means inflammation of the liver. There are many forms and causes of hepatitis (such as viruses and certain drugs), including autoimmune hepatitis. In autoimmune hepatitis, the body's immune system attacks the cells of the liver, which causes the liver to become inflamed.
- CAUSES — It is not clear why autoimmune hepatitis develops. Researchers suspect that some people inherit a genetic disposition that could make them more likely to develop it. Sometimes drugs or infections trigger the development of the disease. (IE this is NOT something I have Contracted by needles or sexually transmitted and nor can I give it to anyone else)
- SIGNS AND SYMPTOMS — The most common symptom is fatigue. Some people also have symptoms of hepatitis, including an enlarged liver, jaundice (yellowing of the skin or eyes), itching, skin rashes, joint pain, abdominal discomfort, abnormal blood vessels in the skin, nausea and vomiting, loss of appetite, dark urine, and pale or gray colored stools. (I had the bold ones)
- DIAGNOSIS — Autoimmune hepatitis is diagnosed with blood tests and a liver biopsy. During a liver biopsy, a small sample of liver tissue is removed and examined under a microscope. The biopsy can help to confirm the diagnosis and determine its severity while excluding other potential causes of liver disease.
- Duration of treatment — As a general rule, treatment is continued until the disease is in remission, the treatment fails, or the person develops severe side effects from treatment.
Remission is defined as a lack of symptoms, near normal levels of liver blood tests, and improvement in the appearance of liver tissue (based upon a biopsy). The initial period of remission generally occurs 12 or more months after treatment begins. Approximately 65 and 80 percent of patients achieve remission by 18 months and three years, respectively.
Approximately 50 percent of patients remain in remission or have only mild disease activity for months to years after treatment is stopped. However, most patients must eventually restart treatment because the disease becomes active again (relapse). Relapse typically occurs within the first 15 to 20 months after treatment is stopped.
I am on two different types of drugs....one is a steroid, which is prednisone, and my doctor is going to try me on a 20 mg dose to start with and then pull me down to 5 mg after about 6 weeks if I respond well. The other is azathioprine which I may need to take forever.......we will see. I am working very closely with the team at Hamilton to ensure that this works with my gastric bypass and that we stay as healthy as we possible can.
Feel free to ask any questions at all - it will help me to learn about what is happening.