In 2011, my mom passed away from liver failure after battling autoimmune hepatitis for many years. In her memory, I am using various ocean races to raise awareness for autoimmune hepatitis and to raise money for research in order to help find a cure.
Autoimmune hepatitis is a chronic liver disease that affects an estimated 200,000 people in the U.S. and Canada. Much is still unknown about the disease, but it can be fatal if undetected and left untreated. Currently, there is no clear cause for the disease nor is it curable, but with your support and through continuing research a cure can be found.
Support the American Liver Foundation and help
find a cure for autoimmune hepatitis
What is autoimmune hepatitis?
Autoimmune hepatitis is a disease in which the body’s own immune system attacks the liver and causes it to become inflamed. The disease is chronic, meaning it lasts many years. If untreated, it can lead to cirrhosis and liver failure. There is currently no known cure for autoimmune hepatitis.
What causes autoimmune hepatitis?
Your immune system normally attacks bacteria, viruses and other invading organisms. It is not supposed to attack your own cells; if it does, the response is called autoimmunity. In autoimmune hepatitis, your immune system attacks your liver cells, causing long-term inflammation and liver damage. Scientists don’t know why the body attacks itself in this way, although heredity and prior infections may play a role.
Who is at risk for autoimmune hepatitis?
About 70 percent of people with autoimmune hepatitis are women, usually between the ages of 15 and 40. Many people with this disease also have other autoimmune diseases, including type 1 diabetes, thyroiditis (inflammation of the thyroid gland), ulcerative colitis (inflammation of the colon), vitiligo (patchy loss of skin pigmentation), or Sjogren’s syndrome (dry eyes and dry mouth).
What are the symptoms of autoimmune hepatitis?
Some of the symptoms include:
- abdominal discomfort
- aching joints
- jaundice (yellowing of the skin and whites of the eyes)
- enlarged liver
- nausea and/or vomiting
- loss of appetite
- dark urine
How is autoimmune hepatitis diagnosed?
Autoimmune hepatitis often occurs suddenly. Initially, you may feel like you have a mild case of the flu. To confirm a diagnosis of autoimmune hepatitis, your doctor will use blood tests and a liver biopsy, in which a sample of liver tissue is removed with a needle for examination in a laboratory.
If you suspect that you or a loved one may have autoimmune hepatitis, please see your doctor. The earlier the disease is diagnosed, the better it can be managed and the higher the long-term survival rate will be.
Source: American Liver Foundation