Liver Disease

The importance of the largest human organ (liver) can’t be emphasized enough. The liver is responsible for food digestion, conservation of energy and for elimination of toxins. Hepatitis A and Hepatitis B are some of the virus-induced liver diseases. Other kinds and types of liver diseases can be caused due to over-use of drugs, addiction to alcohol or intake of poisons. Liver diseases like hemochromatosis are inherited. Liver cancer is another liver disease. Jaundice (turns the skin pale yellow) is an indicative of a liver disease. Cirrhosis is another indicative of a liver disease which makes the liver form scar tissues.

Liver & Liver Disease

Function of Liver

The liver is responsible for performing a lot of vital tasks in the body and is very large in size. Present in right upper quadrant of the abdomen, the liver has a weight of 2-3 pounds. The liver lends a helping hand to the immune system for fighting off infections, helps in removal of bacteria found in blood and secretes bile to aid digestion. Other functions performed by liver include the detoxification and metabolizing of substances that carry a risk for the body, the turning of nutrients found in food into important components of the blood, the regulation of blood clotting, the creation of enzymes and proteins, the storage of vital vitamins and the maintenance of hormone levels.

What Is Liver Disease?

Liver diseases are defined as diseases that damage the liver, cause inflammation and compromise liver functionality. There are various causes for liver disease though the major causes are infection, physical injury, contact with toxic chemicals, a hereditary problem or an autoimmune disorder that results in increase in deposition of substances like copper and iron. These diseases can end up causing inflammation, defects in blood clotting, hindrances and in the worst case, complete failure of the liver.

Symptoms of Liver Disease

Common Symptoms

  • Dizziness
  • Consistent vomiting
  • Pain in the abdomen (upper right corner)
  • Skin discolored to pale yellow because of increased level of bilirubin (Jaundice)
  • Tiredness
  • Loss of weight

Symptoms Caused by Specific Liver Disease

Gallstone

The symptoms caused by gallstones include pain in the abdomen in the upper right quadrant along with a high fever and frequent throw ups.

Cirrhosis

Individuals with cirrhosis will develop progressive symptoms as the liver fails. Symptoms of cirrhosis of the liver include:

  • Bruises that are caused as the liver’s decreased clotting capabilities
  • Itching caused by the deposition of bile salts
  • Gynecomastia (large breasts in males) caused by a hike in estradiol (indicating liver’s failure to maintain hormone levels)
  • Low sex drive and impotence because of liver’s inability to maintain sex hormone levels
  • Tiredness and dizziness caused by an increased concentration of ammonia (indication of liver’s inability to remove a waste substance like ammonia)
  • Wastage of muscle (indicating low protein creation)

Gilbert's disease

There are no symptoms of Gilbert’s disease and can only be picked up accidently if a blood test is conducted where an increase in the bilirubin concentration can point towards it.

Have a look at the video below to get more knowledge about liver disease symptoms.

When to See a Doctor

There are no real symptoms at the start of liver disease with patients not finding any reason to get a medical check-up. If your skin starts to turn yellow (jaundice), you should visit a doctor immediately. Similarly, if you start feeling tired and weak with little to no physical exertion and start to shed weight without any reason, then you should also seek medical attention. Pain in the abdomen, a high fever and frequent vomiting should prompt you to see a doctor too.

Causes & Risk Factors of Liver Disease

The causes of liver disease are list below:

Type

Description

Immune system Problems

Autoimmune disorders are ones in which the immune system mistakes certain body parts as infections and attacks them. Liver related autoimmune disorders include primary biliary cirrhosis, autoimmune hepatitis and primary sclerosing cholangitis.

Infection

The liver can be infected with viruses that end up inflaming the liver and disabling the liver. The parasites usually spread through exposure to an individual who already has the virus or through foul water or food. The viruses that can cause liver disease are Hepatitis A, B and C.

Heredity

Genetic issues can also cause liver diseases. Such diseases normally ensure deposition of substances like copper and iron in the liver because of genetic defects passed on through the parental gene. Heredity liver diseases include Wilson’s disease, oxalosis and hemochromatosis.

Cancer

Liver disease caused by cancer cells include liver cancer, bile duct cancer and liver adenoma

Others

Other factors that are responsible for causing liver disease are addiction to alcohol and deposition of fat in liver.

The risk factors which enhance the chances of liver disease are:

  • Heavy intake of alcohol
  • Injection of drugs through needles that are shared
  • Piercing of body (tattoos)
  • Transfusion of blood in 1992 or earlier
  • Contact with the body fluids and blood of a foreign body
  • Sex without using condoms
  • Contact with toxins or dangerous chemicals
  • Obesity
  • Increased concentration in blood of triglycerides

Treatments for Liver Disease

That the mantra of prevention is better than cure works best in cases of liver disease. Liver diseases like Hepatitis A and Hepatitis B can easily be avoided with the use of vaccines.

Liver damage remains a big possibility with liver inflammation caused by hepatitis which turns out to be permanent in most of the cases even if the inflammation subsides. When treating a liver disease, the main task is to maintain liver function and to protect it from getting damaged further all the while trying to find out the main reason causing the problem. Medications are the first step of treatment with liver surgery (usually transplant) being the other alternative in case medications fail.

Talking out the treatment and care options with the doctor is important as people suffering from liver disease often need long-term treatment and care.

Preventions for Liver Disease

Preventive measures

Description

Avoid dangerous behavior

When injecting any drugs, make sure that the needles aren’t used by anybody else. There remains a possibility of transmission of the Hepatitis virus when using used needles containing someone else’s blood. When having sex, use condoms. When getting your body pierced for a tattoo, make sure that the shop is clean and practices safety regulations.

Take vaccination

Ask your doctor about taking vaccines of Hepatitis A and B if you feel that there is a great risk that you would get hepatitis, or if you have already got a hepatitis virus in your system.

Limit medication use

Make sure that you don’t take any prescription or nonprescription drug in high doses. Ask your doctor whenever you mix any herbal supplements with the medications. Ensure that you don’t drink alcohol while taking medications.

Be careful for chemicals

Follow all the guidelines when spraying aerosol sprays and have a face mask on. Make sure that you also have all your body parts covered (use gloves, hat, a long sleeved t-shirt). You should also open all the doors and windows in the room when spraying in a room.

Maintain healthy weight

Maintain your weight as obesity is responsible for nonalcoholic fatty disease in livers.

Reduce alcohol intake

Females should not drink more than seven drinks in a week (not more than three on any day) and males should not drink more than 14 drinks in a week (not more than four on any day).

 
 
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