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Drug-Induced Liver Injury

Your liver breaks down the food, beverages and other substances you ingest, including medicines, supplements and weight loss pills. Some medicines and supplements can damage your liver cells, especially if you take too much or overdose, such as the case with acetaminophen (Tylenol). However, liver injury can occur unexpectedly even a with normally prescribed dose.

There are two types of drug hepatotoxicity:

  • Predictable dose-dependent liver injury
  • Unpredictable idiosyncratic drug-induced liver injury

Your liver tissue often sustains injury before your body shows signs of malfunction. Symptoms may include jaundice (yellowing of the skin) and an itchy rash. Hepatotoxicity symptoms may share common characteristics of other liver diseases, such as cirrhosis.
Overdoses of over-the-counter medicines, such as acetaminophen (Tylenol), are known to harm liver cells. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) warns against taking prescription drugs with high levels of acetaminophen. Any drug or medicine can potentially cause liver damage.

Medicines often involved in liver injury include:

  • Antibiotics
  • Antidepressants
  • Chemotherapy agents
  • Herbal supplements
  • Dietary supplements
  • Muscle-enhancing supplements
  • Weight-loss pills

Drug-induced liver injury is difficult to diagnose. The condition is often mislabeled as another liver condition. Symptoms can appear in ways that mimic hepatitis C, alcohol-induced liver disease and nonalcoholic fatty liver disease. Pinpointing the cause of your liver damage is essential in preventing further liver injury to avoid acute or fulminant liver failure or the need for a liver transplant.

At Indiana University Health, we are experts in managing these hard-to-diagnose conditions. We are actively researching drug hepatotoxicity, and we offer extensive resources that are not available elsewhere to diagnose and treat drug-induced liver injury. 

We are a founding member of the Drug Induced Liver Injury Network (DILIN) created by the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases. It requires knowledge, time and expedience to recognize the drug or alternative medicine that is causing your liver damage. We investigate every drug, medicine and supplement you have taken in the past three to six months to determine the source of your condition. You may no longer be taking the medicine when your symptoms present themselves.

We guide you in understanding your condition and enroll you in clinical studies and research, where appropriate. Our affiliation with the IU School of Medicine and our research includes investigations into the causes, development and outcomes of drug hepatotoxicity.

How We Can Help

How We Can Help

Drug-Induced Liver Injury Treatment Information

There is no diagnostic test available to determine which medicine or supplement is causing your liver damage. Our experience in treating and researching these conditions enables us to deliver expert diagnoses. We reduce the anxiety that comes with not knowing the cause of your condition. We offer the newest treatments to stop liver damage and restore your liver function.

Drug-Induced Liver Injury Locations & Physicians

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Drug-Induced Liver Injury Support Services

Learn more about drug-induced liver injury treatments at these websites: