Symptoms of Autoimmune Hepatitis can range from none to mild to severe. It is common to have no symptoms at the beginning. Some people may not have symptoms when they are diagnosed but they may develop them later. Others develop symptoms quickly over a few days (acute hepatitis – an illness that develops quickly).
- feeling more tired than normal or becoming tired easily
- feeling generally unwell
- mild joint or muscle pains, usually these are worse in the morning
- low appetite (not feeling hungry) and weight loss
- feeling sick (nausea)
- itching (pruritus)
- skin rash
- excessive hair growth (usually in women)
- passing loose or more frequent bowel movements (diarrhoea)
- absent periods/menstruation cycle (amenorrhoea)
- tummy pain or bloating
When symptoms do start to appear, they often start over weeks or months. The symptoms are often nonspecific and have many possible causes so your doctor may not immediately attribute your symptoms to liver disease.
- the build-up of fluid in the legs, feet and ankles (oedema)
- the build-up of fluid in the tummy (ascites)
- jaundice – a condition in which the whites of the eyes go yellow and, in more severe cases, the skin also turns yellow
- abnormal blood vessels on the skin
- dark urine (wee)
- pale and/or fatty floating stools (poo).
As many people have either no symptoms or symptoms that are common for many other conditions, in the early stages of Autoimmune Hepatitis it is often diagnosed by a medical professional either when you have had routine tests, or tests for an unrelated condition.
For those who have symptoms, diagnosis is usually made though a mixture of taking a careful medical history, performing a physical examination, a range of blood tests and a liver biopsy. A diagnosis of Autoimmune Hepatitis is usually made by looking at your test results and ruling out other causes of liver disease such as fatty liver disease or viral hepatitis.
For more detailed information on testing and diagnosis please see our publication below.