non-viral hepatitis


Non-viral hepatitis is an inflammation of the liver that can cause scarring on the liver (cirrhosis), liver cancer, liver failure and death. There are 3 types of non-viral hepatitis:

  • Toxic hepatitis is caused by chemicals, drugs (prescription and over-the-counter) and nutritional supplements.
  • Alcoholic hepatitis is caused by drinking too much alcohol, which harms the liver. See a doctor if you have symptoms of alcoholic hepatitis or if you can’t control your drinking. Your doctor can help you find ways to stop. 
  • Autoimmune hepatitis is caused by the immune system attacking the liver. The immune system can attack the liver for unknown reasons, causing inflammation, liver scarring, liver cancer and liver failure. Some diseases and certain toxic substances and drugs can cause this to happen.


Symptoms of toxic hepatitis can appear within hours, days or months of exposure and may include:

  • Jaundice (yellowing of skin and eyes)
  • Abdominal pain
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Dark-colored urine
  • Itching and rash
  • Fatigue
  • Loss of appetite
An overdose of acetaminophen (such as Tylenol) can cause liver failure or even death – so seek medical help right away if you think you or someone you know took too much acetaminophen. This causes nausea, sweating, vomiting, pain in your upper abdomen or coma.


To diagnose non-viral hepatitis, your doctor will ask you about any risk factors and symptoms you have. He or she will then perform a physical exam and may order tests, such as:

  • Imaging tests: ultrasound, MRI or CT scans
  • A liver tissue sample (biopsy) 
Autoimmune hepatitis is diagnosed by blood tests. Sometimes a liver tissue sample (biopsy) is required. Treatment includes medication to stop the immune system from attacking the liver. If the liver is severely damaged, a transplant may be necessary.

Be sure to show your doctor all drugs and supplements you take.

services & treatment

Treatment for toxic hepatitis may include:

  • Stopping exposure to the substance that caused it
  • Taking medication
  • Receiving a liver transplant
To treat your symptoms, your doctor may prescribe a drug (corticosteroid) to reduce liver inflammation, or you may need to be treated in a hospital. If you are diagnosed with alcoholic hepatitis, you must stop drinking completely to keep the disease from getting worse or causing death.

To prevent toxic hepatitis:

  • Limit alcohol.
  • Take over-the-counter drugs only as needed.
  • Take medications only as directed; don’t take more than is recommended.
  • Limit the number of medicines you take, if possible. This includes supplements and herbs. Tell your doctor, pharmacist, and other care providers about everything you take.
  • If you’re taking any medication, especially acetaminophen, don’t also drink alcohol.
  • If you work with hazardous chemicals, take every safety precaution to protect yourself from harmful exposure, and get emergency care if you are exposed.

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