Non-viral Hepatitis

Hepatitis is an inflammation of your liver, which can have viral or non-viral causes. Hepatitis can cause scarring on your liver (cirrhosis), liver cancer, liver failure and death.

Types of non-viral hepatitis include:

Our liver specialists are experienced at treating all types of viral and non-viral hepatitis.

Toxic Hepatitis

You can get toxic hepatitis from taking too much of certain drugs, combining some drugs or from some chemicals. These can inflame, damage and scar your liver and cause liver failure, which is called cirrhosis.

You Are at Higher Risk of Developing Toxic Hepatitis if You

  • Have another kind of hepatitis, especially hepatitis B or C, or another liver disease
  • Drink too much alcohol, especially with medicine
  • Work with industrial toxins
  • Take over-the-counter pain relievers or other drugs
  • Take many medications or take more than is recommended
  • Are older
  • Are female

Symptoms

Symptoms of toxic hepatitis can appear within hours, days or months of exposure, and may go away if you avoid the medicine or chemical that caused it.

Symptoms include:

  • Jaundice (yellowing of skin and eyes)
  • Abdominal pain
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Weight loss
  • Appetite loss
  • Fatigue
  • Dark-colored urine
  • Itching and rash

Taking too much acetaminophen (such as Tylenol) is an emergency because it can cause liver failure and death. Symptoms of acetaminophen overdose include nausea, vomiting, upper abdominal pain, sweating and coma.

See a doctor if you have signs of toxic hepatitis.

Diagnosis

Your doctor may order blood tests, imaging tests (ultrasound, MRI, CT), a physical exam and, sometimes, a tissue sample (biopsy) from your liver to see if you could have toxic hepatitis. Be sure to show your doctor all drugs and supplements you take.

Treatment

Our liver specialists (hepatologists) have experience treating toxic hepatitis. They can help you keep your liver as healthy as possible.

Toxic hepatitis treatment can include:

  • Stopping the exposure. If your doctor finds the cause of your toxic hepatitis, it is important to avoid it.
  • Taking medication. If acetaminophen caused your toxic hepatitis and you’ve gotten medical care quickly, your doctor may give you medicine to treat it.
  • Having a transplant. If your liver is severely damaged, you may need a liver transplant.

How to Prevent Toxic Hepatitis:

  • Limit alcohol.
  • Take over-the-counter drugs only as needed.
  • Take medicine as directed; do not take more than recommended.
  • Limit the number of medicines you take, if possible. This includes supplements and herbs. Tell your doctor about everything you take at your regular checkups so he or she can tell you if something could be a problem.
  • Do not use alcohol with medications, especially acetaminophen.
  • If you work with hazardous chemicals, avoid coming into contact with them. If you are exposed to a harmful chemical, get emergency care.
  • Keep medications and chemicals away from children.

Alcoholic Hepatitis

Alcohol has liver-damaging toxins. Alcoholic hepatitis is a serious health problem that can occur in people who drink heavily, or even moderately. About 35 percent of alcoholics develop hepatitis. One-third of people with alcoholic hepatitis die within six months of noticing symptoms.

You Are at Higher Risk of Developing Alcoholic Hepatitis if You:

  • Drink too much alcohol
  • Drink too much alcohol and are malnourished
  • Are a binge drinker
  • Are obese
  • Are female
  • Are Hispanic or black
  • Have another type of hepatitis (especially hepatitis C)
  • Drink beer or spirits (as opposed to wine)

Symptoms

Symptoms of alcoholic hepatitis include:

  • Jaundice (yellowing of skin and eyes)
  • Increasing abdominal size due to fluid buildup
  • Abdominal pain
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Weight loss
  • Appetite loss
  • Malnourishment
  • Confusion and behavior changes
  • Liver and kidney failure

See a doctor if you have symptoms of alcoholic hepatitis or if you cannot control your drinking.

Diagnosis

Your doctor will talk to you about your drinking history and check your liver for damage. You will have blood tests, liver function tests and imaging tests (ultrasound, MRI, CT).

Treatment

Our liver specialists (hepatologists) have experience treating alcoholic hepatitis. They can help you keep your liver as healthy as possible. Alcoholic hepatitis is a serious health problem that will only get worse if you keep drinking. Your doctor can help you find ways to stop drinking.

Your doctor will suggest ways to treat the symptoms of alcoholic hepatitis. It may include taking a drug (corticosteroids) to reduce liver inflammation. If you are malnourished, you may need to be treated in the hospital.

Alcoholic hepatitis causes many complications. One of these is fluid building up between your abdomen (stomach) and spine. The fluid can become infected and can cause abdominal pain and swelling. You may need to have the fluid drained with a procedure called paracentesis (abdominal tap).

If you have advanced alcoholic hepatitis, you may need a liver transplant. Not all medical centers allow people with alcoholic hepatitis to have liver transplants. Most transplant programs require you to quit drinking for at least six months before a transplant and commit to stop drinking permanently to keep your new liver healthy.

How to Prevent Alcoholic Hepatitis

Drinking too much alcohol causes alcoholic hepatitis. To avoid it, drink only in moderation if you drink at all. If you have any risk factors for alcoholic hepatitis, be even more careful about drinking.

If you are diagnosed with alcohol-related hepatitis, you must stop drinking to prevent the disease from getting worse, damaging your liver or causing death.

Autoimmune Hepatitis

Your immune system can attack your liver for unknown reasons, causing inflammation, scarring (cirrhosis), liver cancer and liver failure. Some diseases and certain toxic substances and drugs can cause this to happen.

You Are at Higher Risk of Developing Autoimmune Hepatitis if You:

  • Have another autoimmune disease (such as rheumatoid arthritis or ulcerative colitis)
  • Have a family history of the disease
  • Use certain medications (some antibiotics and cholesterol drugs)
  • Have had an infection (may occur after a bacterial or viral infection)
  • Are female
  • Are a young female (one type is more common in young females)

Symptoms

You may not have any symptoms of autoimmune hepatitis, but symptoms can include:

  • Jaundice (yellowing of skin and eyes)
  • Abdominal discomfort
  • Enlarged liver
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Fatigue
  • Loss of menstruation
  • Joint pain
  • Appetite loss
  • Itching and rash
  • Abnormal blood vessels on the skin
  • Dark-colored urine

See a doctor if you have signs of autoimmune hepatitis.

Diagnosis

Autoimmune hepatitis is diagnosed by blood tests and, sometimes, a tissue sample (biopsy) from your liver.

Treatment

Our liver specialists (hepatologists) have experience treating autoimmune hepatitis. They can help you keep your liver as healthy as possible.

Treatment focuses on stopping your immune system from attacking your liver. Your doctor will prescribe a drug for this. If your liver is severely damaged, you may need a liver transplant.

Autoimmune hepatitis can cause many complications. One of these is fluid building up between your abdomen (stomach) and spine. The fluid can become infected and can cause abdominal pain and swelling. The fluid may need to be drained with a procedure called paracentesis (abdominal tap).

Find an Aurora Health Care GI Specialist