Lupus and the liver
Lupus affects different people in different ways. Many people with lupus have problems with their liver.
How does lupus affect the liver?
Your liver helps your body digest food and filters waste out of your blood. Lupus can affect the liver in a couple different ways.
Lupus and some lupus medicines can cause hepatitis, or inflammation of the liver.
Many people with hepatitis don’t notice any symptoms, but some people have these symptoms:
- Fatigue (feeling tired)
- Jaundice (yellow skin or eyes)
- Nausea and vomiting
- Abdominal pain
- Dark urine (pee)
- Pale or gray stool (poop)
If you have symptoms of liver problems, tell your doctor. You may need a blood test to check that your liver is working the right way.
When lupus causes hepatitis, it’s called autoimmune hepatitis. This means that your immune system is attacking your liver. There are 2 types of autoimmune hepatitis:
- Type 1 is more common, and affects people of all ages
- Type 2 is less common, and usually affects girls ages 2 to 14
If you have autoimmune hepatitis, your doctor may prescribe steroids (like prednisone) or a medicine called azathioprine that can help control your immune system. Your doctor can do tests to find out what’s causing your hepatitis and the best way to treat it.
Lupus can also cause hepatic vasculitis, or inflammation of the blood vessels that carry blood to the liver. This can cause blood clots and other problems.