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Autoimmune Hepatitis - A Rare and Potentially Severe Chronic Condition

Soloman Shah, MD, is a physician with Gastrointestinal Medicine Associates, PC, and part of the Privia Medical Group team. Based in Fairfax, Virginia, Dr. Soloman Shah maintains certification in gastroenterology and is experienced in treating a wide range of liver conditions. One of the rarest and most serious liver diseases is autoimmune hepatitis (AIH), which can be a cause of severe chronic hepatitis if untreated.

The causes of AIH still are not explained fully but are thought to have to do with lymphocytes, or circulating blood cells. These cells react to the healthy liver cells, or hepatocytes, as if they are foreign and begin to destroy them. Most common among people between the ages of 45 and 55, AIH typically affects those with other autoimmune diseases present. These include thyroid disease, vitamin B12 deficiency (pernicious anemia), and vitiligo.

After being identified through a liver function blood test, AIH is treated through a regimen of immunosuppression, which employs corticosteroids as a way of suppressing the immune system’s capacity to fight infection. Controllable, rather than curable, autoimmune hepatitis typically requires a long-term approach to care.

 

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