Lupus and Liver Involvement

Lupus In Color
Education Series

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Liver Involvement          

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Your liver is the largest organ inside your body. It is also one of the most important. The liver has many jobs, including changing food into energy and cleaning alcohol and poisons from the blood. Your liver also makes bile, a yellowish-green liquid that helps with digestion. When lupus causes inflammation in the liver, a condition called hepatic vasculitis can occur. This can cause blood clots in the vessels that supply the liver with blood.

The liver may become enlarged due to ascites or congestive heart failure. People with lupus also may develop jaundice, a liver condition that gives a yellowish color to the skin. Jaundice in lupus also can be a sign of anemia or pancreatitis. If your liver enzyme levels are increased, this may be due to NSAIDs or acetaminophen, or may be a sign of lupus activity.

Autoimmune hepatitis is a disease in which the immune system attacks the liver, causing the liver to become inflamed. Autoimmune hepatitis is classified as either type 1 or 2. Type 1 is the most common form in North America. It occurs at any age and is more common among women than men. About half of those with type 1 have other autoimmune disorders, such as type 1 diabetes, proliferative glomerulonephritis, systemic lupus, thyroiditis, Graves’ disease, Sjögren’s syndrome, autoimmune anemia, or ulcerative colitis. Type 2 autoimmune hepatitis is less common, typically affecting girls ages 2 to 14, although it can also affect adults..

Fatigue is probably the most common symptom of autoimmune hepatitis. Other symptoms include an enlarged liver, jaundice, itching and skin rashes, joint pain, abdominal discomfort, abnormal blood vessels on the skin (spider angiomas), nausea and vomiting, loss of appetite, dark urine, and pale or gray-colored stools.

Because severe viral hepatitis or hepatitis caused by a drug — for example, certain antibiotics — have the same symptoms as autoimmune hepatitis, tests may be needed for an exact diagnosis. Your doctor should also review and rule out drugs you are taking before diagnosing autoimmune hepatitis. Physicians treat both types of autoimmune hepatitis with daily doses of a corticosteroid (such as prednisone). They also use azathioprine (Imuran®).

Partial information compiled from

http://www.lupus.org/answers/entry/gastrointestinal-system-and-lupus

Please visit the link for more in depth information and as always check with your doctor for the best information related to your specific case.

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