Drug Induced Liver Disease (cont.)

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Acute and chronic hepatitis

Certain drugs can cause acute and chronic hepatitis (inflammation of liver cells) that can lead to necrosis (death) of the cells. Acute drug-induced hepatitis is defined as hepatitis that lasts less than 3 months, while chronic hepatitis lasts longer than 3 months. Acute drug-induced hepatitis is much more common than chronic drug-induced hepatitis.

Typical symptoms of drug-induced hepatitis include:

  • loss of appetite,
  • nausea,
  • vomiting,
  • fever,
  • weakness,
  • tiredness, and
  • abdominal pain.

In more serious cases, patients can develop dark urine, fever, light-colored stool, and jaundice (a yellow appearance to the skin and white portion of the eyes). Patients with hepatitis usually have high blood levels of AST, ALT, and bilirubin. Both acute and chronic hepatitis typically resolve after stopping the drug, but sometimes acute hepatitis can be severe enough to cause acute liver failure (see discussion later in this article), and chronic hepatitis can on rare occasions, lead to permanent liver damage and cirrhosis.

Examples of drugs that can cause acute hepatitis include acetaminophen (Tylenol), phenytoin (Dilantin), aspirin, isoniazid (Nydrazid, Laniazid), diclofenac (Voltaren), and amoxicillin/clavulanic acid (Augmentin).

Examples of drugs that can cause chronic hepatitis include minocycline (Minocin), nitrofurantoin (Furadantin, Macrodantin), phenytoin (Dilantin), propylthiouracil, fenofibrate (Tricor), and methamphetamine ("ecstasy")..

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 1/22/2014

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Drug-Induced Liver Disease - Describe Your Experience Question: The symptoms of drug-induced liver disease can vary greatly from patient to patient. What were your symptoms at the onset of your disease?
Drug-Induced Liver Disease - Causes Question: What caused your drug-induced liver disease?
Drug-Induced Liver Disease - Hepatitis Question: Did you have drug-induced hepatitis? Please describe your experience.
Drug-Induced Liver Disease - Cirrhosis Question: Were you or someone you know diagnosed with drug-induced cirrhosis? Please share your story.
Drug-Induced Liver Disease - Treatment Question: In addition to stopping the drug that caused liver disease, what types of treatment did you receive?

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