It is estimated between 11% and 23% of cases of long-term liver
inflammation (chronic hepatitis) in North America result from damage to the
liver caused by the body's own
immune system.1 It is not
known why the body's immune system begins to attack the liver cells in what is
called an autoimmune response.
Autoimmune chronic hepatitis can be treated successfully with
medication. If it is not treated, the condition progresses slowly until liver
cells are replaced by scar tissue (cirrhosis) and liver failure occurs.
Many types of hepatitis can be prevented by making informed lifestyle choices. Vaccinations are available for hepatitis A and B. Adequate sanitation and clean personal habits will help reduce the spread of hepatitis A and hepatitis E. In areas where sanitation is questionable, boil water. Cook all food well and peel all fruit.
Health care workers or caregivers involved in the treatment of patients with contagious forms of hepatitis should wash their hands, utensils, bedding, and clothing with soap...