Is Autoimmune Hepatitis Considered a Disability?
Autoimmune hepatitis is a condition characterized by liver inflammation that occurs when the defense system confuses the cells of that organ with invaders and attacks them.
Although there are several associated factors, such as virus infections, accumulation of fat and administration of certain medications, there is a cause belonging to autoimmune diseases, which are due to the uncontrolled activation of the immune system (defenses), which stops recognizing organs and tissues as their own, causing them harm.
The International Classification of Functioning, Disability and Health define disability as a generic term that covers deficiencies, limitations of activity and restrictions on participation. Autoimmune hepatitis is not a disabling disease; it should only be treated by a specialist on time to avoid irreparable damage to the liver.
Although if you have another diseases then you may be qualified for disability and it is better to hire a disability attorney.
The cause of this kind of hepatitis is ignored; however, the existence of a certain genetic predisposition it is known, as it is the case with other autoimmune diseases. It is important to know that it is classified into:
Type 1: It is the most frequent and can manifest at any age.
Type 2: It occurs in children and adolescents.
Because the condition has a fluctuating course, its manifestations are variable. There are even people who are diagnosed without having any discomfort. Among the most frequently cited symptoms are fatigue, nausea, joint and abdominal pain, pruritus or itching, jaundice (yellowing of the skin and eyes) and spider veins (blood in epidermis).
Diagnosis and management
The detection of autoimmune hepatitis is only possible through a combination of medical criteria, which include review of the patient and their medical history, blood tests to detect antibodies that attack the different structures of the liver and liver tissue sample studies.
The biopsy (extraction of liver cells) is one of the main diagnostic elements and to establish the prognosis of the disease. This is because it can show alterations that reveal if there is damage to the organ, changes that indicate progression of the disease and if hepatic cirrhosis has already developed.
The standard treatment of autoimmune hepatitis includes the administration of cortisone (anti-inflammatory) at lower doses, or in combination with azathioprine (immunosuppressant, that means reducing the activity of the immune system). This scheme induces clinical remission in 65% of patients in an average of 18 months, and 80% in three years. Life expectancy at 10 and 20 years of follow-up of patients receiving such therapy is close to 80%. In addition, treatment with corticosteroids (anti-inflammatories) has shown that it can reverse hepatic fibrosis (accumulation of collagen fibers in the liver) or prevent its progression by decreasing the inflammatory activity of the disease.
Experts agree that the success of the administration of cortisone in autoimmune hepatitis is opposed to the development of side effects to the drug that occur in 13% of patients. In addition, 50% of people in treatment suffer relapses within a period of six months after leaving therapy and 72% of individuals who relapse require indefinite treatment. Hence the importance of prescribing corticosteroids at low doses and supplemented with azathioprine.
For this reason, the possibility of providing therapy with immunosuppressants is being studied, which promise to improve the tolerance of the aforementioned formulas. Among them are cyclosporine, tacrolimus, mycophenolate mofetil, budesonide and deflazacort.
Liver transplantation should be considered as treatment in patients with autoimmune hepatitis and decompensated liver disease. After the intervention, the global survival of the patients at 10 years is 75%, although it is important to bear in mind that the condition may reappear in 17%, but generally in a mild and easily manageable manner with adjustments in the medication.
Take into account that untreated autoimmune hepatitis can progress and lead to the development of liver cirrhosis, so do not forget to perform routine check-ups, as the disease does not always cause symptoms. In addition, detecting at an early stage is possible to prevent irreversible liver damage.
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