Autoimmune Hepatitis: Care Instructions

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Your Care Instructions

Digestive system

Autoimmune hepatitis is a long-term disease that makes the body's defences (immune system) attack the liver. This causes liver inflammation and damage. Sometimes chemicals, certain medicines, or a virus can cause cells in your body to attack your liver. Some people appear to be more likely to get this disease. And women get it more often than men.

It can cause tiredness, belly discomfort, and itchy skin. You may also have diarrhea and fluid buildup in your belly (ascites). Your skin and eyes may look yellow. This is called jaundice. And you may not want to eat, so you may lose weight. But there are medicines you can take to keep your liver damage from getting worse.

Follow-up care is a key part of your treatment and safety. Be sure to make and go to all appointments, and call your doctor if you are having problems. It's also a good idea to know your test results and keep a list of the medicines you take.

How can you care for yourself at home?

  • Be safe with medicines. Take your medicines exactly as prescribed. Call your doctor if you have any problems with your medicine. You will get more details on the specific medicines your doctor prescribes.
  • Lower your activity to match your energy.
  • Avoid alcohol for as long as your doctor tells you to. Tell your doctor if you need help to quit. Counselling, support groups, and sometimes medicines can help you stay sober.
  • Make sure your doctor knows all the medicines you take. Some medicines, such as acetaminophen (Tylenol), can make liver problems worse. Do not take any new medicines, and do not stop taking prescribed medicines, unless your doctor says it is okay.
  • Follow your doctor's instructions about your diet. You may need a low-salt diet. Salt is in many prepared foods, such as bacon, canned foods, snack foods, sauces, and soups. Look for reduced-salt products.
  • If you have itchy skin, keep cool and stay out of the sun. It may help to wear cotton clothing. Talk to your doctor about using over-the-counter medicines, such as Benadryl or Chlor-Tripolon, to control the itching. Read and follow all instructions on the label.

When should you call for help?

Call 911 anytime you think you may need emergency care. For example, call if:

  • You passed out (lost consciousness).
  • You have severe belly pain or swelling.
  • You have severe problems breathing.
  • You vomit blood.

Call your doctor or nurse call line now or seek immediate medical care if:

  • You are confused, or your confusion gets worse.
  • You have a fever or chills.
  • Your skin or the whites of your eyes turn yellow or get more yellow.
  • You have belly pain or swelling.
  • You vomit or have severe nausea.
  • Your urine is dark yellow-brown, or your stools are light-coloured.
  • Your stools are black and look like tar, or have streaks of blood.

Watch closely for changes in your health, and be sure to contact your doctor if:

  • Your skin itches, or itching gets worse.
  • You are not able to eat well and are losing weight.
  • You feel more tired than usual.

Where can you learn more?

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Current as of: March 3, 2017