Toxic hepatitis is the inflammation (swelling) of the liver caused by exposure to chemicals or drugs, or from drinking excessive amounts of alcohol. Symptoms include nausea, dark urine and jaundice (yellowing of the skin). Treatment includes avoiding exposure to the causes.
Toxic hepatitis is the inflammation (swelling) of the liver caused by exposure to chemicals or drugs, or from drinking excessive amounts of alcohol.
The liver has several major functions:
Cleveland Clinic is a non-profit academic medical center. Advertising on our site helps support our mission. We do not endorse non-Cleveland Clinic products or services. Policy
Toxic hepatitis is usually caused by exposure to certain organic (carbon-based) chemicals or solvents, certain medications, drugs or alcohol.
Many chemicals and drugs can cause liver damage. However, people respond differently to different medications. Some people may have an adverse reaction to certain drugs and can suffer liver damage, while others may not. Excessive drinking that causes liver damage can make the harmful effects of drug or chemical exposure worse.
Types of toxic hepatitis include:
Other medications may be toxic for some patients, especially those who are elderly or who have viral hepatitis.
The symptoms of toxic hepatitis can include the following:
It may take days, weeks or even months for symptoms to appear after exposure to the chemicals or drugs. Symptoms may be similar to those of other liver disorders.
In chronic (long-term) cases of toxic hepatitis, extensive liver damage, such as cirrhosis (irreversible scarring) may occur. The patient may also develop severe liver failure, which can be life-threatening.
The most effective treatment for toxic hepatitis is to avoid further exposure to the chemical or drug that caused it:
The liver has the ability to heal itself by replacing liver cells that are damaged. It may take several weeks or months before any improvement is noted. Many patients make a full recovery. In rare cases, if liver damage is severe or irreversible, the patient may need a liver transplant.
Last reviewed by a Cleveland Clinic medical professional on 08/27/2018.
Learn more about our editorial process.