Hepatitis, chronic

Inflammation of the liver persisting for a prolonged period. Eventually, scar tissue forms and liver cirrhosis may develop. Chronic hepatitis may develop following an attack of acute hepatitis (see hepatitis, acute). It may also occur as the result of an autoimmune disorder, a viral infection (see hepatitis, viral), a reaction to certain types of drugs or, more rarely, to a metabolic disorder, such as haemochromatosis or Wilson’s disease. Chronic hepatitis may cause slight tiredness or no symptoms at all. It is diagnosed by liver biopsy. Autoimmune hepatitis is treated with corticosteroid drugs and immunosuppressants. Viral infections often respond to interferon. In the drug-induced type, withdrawal of the medication can lead to recovery. For metabolic disturbances, treatment depends on the underlying disorder.


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