Autoimmune hepatitis is a condition in which the body's own immune system attacks the liver, causing inflammation. Although the causes are not well understood, it appears that environmental and genetic factors may work together to cause the disease. Eventually, autoimmune hepatitis will lead to scarring of the liver, the development of a condition called cirrhosis, and possibly liver failure. Autoimmune hepatitis differs from viral hepatitis, as it originates within the body itself rather than from exposure to a pathogen.
The most common symptoms of autoimmune hepatitis include abdominal pain, fatigue, spider veins, skin rashes, joint pains, and other signs of an enlarged liver. In its advanced stages, the condition can cause a yellowing of the skin and whites of the eyes called jaundice. In women, it can lead to interruption of the menstrual cycle.
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