Does anyone have experience of taking Ursodeoxycholic acid to relieve the itching associated with AIH?

I was diagnosed with AIH earlier this year and have recently finished taking Prednisilone, my LFT's have returned to normal, and I am currently taking Azathioprine. Some of my symptoms have returned since stopping the Prednisilone, liver pain and itching and I am still fatigued. At my last appointment my Consultant prescribed Ursodeoxycholic acid for itching but I can't find any information that indicates this will help.

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8 Replies

  • Hi SLP. I know its worrying to have a return of symptoms, but a guide to your liver health is whether your liver function blood tests have remained stable since you stopped the Prednisolone. Did you stop suddenly, or reduce the dose very very slowly? I found when I reduced too quick I got side effects such as fatigue and muscle tremor. Unfortunately chronic fatigue goes with a diagnosis of AIH, you have to learn to live with it, pace yourself and live within your energy/stamina limits.

    Ursodeoxycholic acid is a bile acid, and works best for patients with bile problems. If you itching is because you have decompensated cirrhosis, it may not work so well.

  • Hi Bolly, thank you for your reply. I reduced the Prednisilone over 6 weeks and although some of my symptoms have returned my LFT's have remained in the normal or near normal range so far. As far as I know I don't have bile problems currently, I had my gall bladder removed after my first episode of hepatitis. I also have hereditary spherocytosis which does often cause gall stones. My diagnosis has been made over about 2 years with some things being typical of AIH and others not. I did however react very positively to Prednisolone which was when the confirmed diagnosis was made. I haven't been told I have decompensated cirrhosis, my liver biopsy showed some scarring and fatty infiltration but my consultant was hopeful these would heal to some extent over time.

  • UDCA is for cholestatic or biliary cirrhosis. My understandibng of it is Improvemoves the biliary enzyme levels which improves the itching. Here is one study

  • Hi Angelo212, thanks for your reply. What is concerning me is I haven't been diagnosed with PBC, my liver biopsy showed some scarring and some fatty infiltration but my consultant said this would be likely to heal over time.The itching and pain over my liver is marginally better but unfortunately I don't have an appointment until October so I guess I will just have to keep taking the tablets and hope for the best.

  • The good thing is the UDCA is not really harmful at all. I mean that it isn't toxic to the body or hard on the kidneys etc. so at least you don't need to worry about that. I would be hell bent on asking the doctor on why exactly he thought it would work for itching and recite the info in that link. I agree the fatty infiltration would heal and the itching should stop but the scarring is forever. I have hep c and am not well versed in your type but the fat in the liver I think alot of that maybe controlled by diet. Anyone with any type of liver disease IMO should watch fats especially saturated and trans fats. Excess calories to. Your diet (what you eat) can help everything. I really believe you are what you eat. I understand some liver issues will store things differently though like excess of B-12, folate, vit D and other times not absorb enough of other nutrients. Always check with your doctor about supplmenting though.

  • Yes, they wanted to prescribe Urso to me for the same reason, but I had an allergy to it so it was a no-go. But yes, they did want to prescribe it for pruritus relief.

  • I think i am having some kind of allergy to Urso too. What were the symptoms ?

  • There are topical creams that can relieve the itching rather than taking more tablets.I found Euraxcream very good for stopping the itching. Bolly is right about the will learn to live with it and will accept your limitations eventually. I have AIH too and after two years not working due to my illness have finally gone back to work and am managing well.I know that I have to rest when I get the chance and look after myself in terms of food drinking water long as I do that I am fine.