Autoimmune Hepatitis Treatment
Medication Side EffectsBoth prednisone and azathioprine have side effects. Because high doses of prednisone are needed to control autoimmune hepatitis, it's very important to manage the side effects of this drug. However, most side effects appear only after a long period of time.
Some possible side effects of prednisone include:
- Weight gain
- Anxiety and confusion
- Thinning of the bones (osteoporosis)
- Thinning of the hair and skin
- High blood pressure (hypertension)
Azathioprine can lower your white blood cell count and can sometimes cause nausea and poor appetite. Allergic reactions and liver damage are among the rare side effects of this medication. Another rare azathioprine side effect is pancreatitis -- or inflammation of the pancreas gland with severe abdominal pain (or stomach pain).
Autoimmune Hepatitis PrognosisMost people will need to take prednisone -- with or without azathioprine -- for years. Some people take it for life. Corticosteroids may slow down the disease in some cases, but it's important to remember that every case is different.
In about one out of every three people, autoimmune hepatitis treatment can eventually be stopped. After stopping treatment, it is important to carefully monitor your condition and promptly report any new symptoms to your doctor. This is important because the disease may return and be even more severe, especially during the first few months after stopping treatment.
In about 7 out of every 10 people, autoimmune hepatitis goes into remission (with symptoms becoming less severe) within two years of starting autoimmune hepatitis treatment. Even when autoimmune hepatitis goes into remission, some people will see the disease return within three years. So autoimmune hepatitis treatment may be necessary on and off for years, if not for life.