For a clear and simple version of the facts, click here. Otherwise,
Here’s my version
Foot-soldiers and Cavalry
Our body is a country with impressive armed forces (the immune system) made up of foot-soldiers (white blood cells – lymphocytes) and the cavalry (special proteins – antibodies). The purpose of the army – to protect and serve.
In special people like me (smile), the army misidentifies the liver as an enemy stronghold and dispatches a battalion of the cavalry to launch a full-scale military assault. The cavalry in turn assembles a special task force (auto-antibodies) to complete the mission, targeting and destroying all occupants (liver cells – hepatocytes).
Autoimmune hepatitis is the result.
So there you have it, a plain and simple case of mistaken identity or in military terms, an error of identification. Sometimes when I am sprawled diagonally across the bed, just too pooped to move, I swear, I can hear the rapid gunfire of the misdirected internal assault!
Some basic facts about Autoimmune Hepatitis:
- It is quite rare: an incidence of 1 – 2 per 100,000.
- It affects mostly women – 70%
- A predisposition to the disease MAY run in families.
- Abdominal discomfort
- Yellowing of the skin and whites of the eyes (jaundice)
- An enlarged liver
- Abnormal blood vessels on the skin (spider angiomas)
- Skin rashes
- Joint pains
- In women, loss of menstruation
- There is no known cure
- It can lead to cirrhosis (scarring of the liver), eventual liver failure and death.
- Esophageal varices – enlarged veins in your esophagus
- Ascites – fluid in your abdomen
- Liver failure.
- Liver cancer.