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 Overview

Liver disease is a broad term that covers any sort of disorder that affects the liver.

The liver is a vital organ that helps to filter out toxins from the body, so when it is not functioning properly, it can lead to a build-up of harmful substances in the blood.

There are many different types of liver disease, and each one has its own unique set of symptoms and treatment options.

Symptoms of liver disease can include nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain, and yellowing of the skin and eyes.

Treatment for liver disease depends on the cause, but may include medication, surgery, or lifestyle changes.

There are many different liver diseases, but they can broadly be classified into two categories: those that are caused by viruses and those that are not.

In this article we discuss liver disease and treatments available, the causes and symptoms of this disease, and when to seek help from a medical professional.

 

What is Liver Disease?

 

The liver is a large organ located in the right upper abdomen that aids in digestion and filters toxins from the blood.

Liver disease is an umbrella term used to describe a wide range of health issues that affect the liver.

Liver disease isn’t a single problem. Plenty of different liver diseases can affect your body, and these different ailments need to be pinpointed and studied individually in order to develop better treatments and cures.

With that being said, the types of liver diseases out there include both hereditary conditions and those you pick up by way of lifestyle or environment.

The primary causes of liver disease are alcohol abuse, drug use, diabetes, and obesity, but there are also other contributing factors worth keeping an eye out for like hepatitis C or B, fatty liver disease caused by obesity, chronic fatigue syndrome/fibromyalgia (which can damage the cells in your body), and even several dangerous disorders that threaten the long-term health.

Ideally, you should make educating yourself on these various conditions a priority if you want to avoid developing them yourself.

 

liver_disease_fibrosis

 

Causes of Liver Disease

There are different types of liver disease, each with its own underlying cause. Liver disease may be caused by:

Viral Infections
Diseases caused by a viral infection such as Hepatitis A, Hepatitis B and Hepatitis C.

Inherited Diseases
Liver problems can also be caused by genetic diseases such as Wilson disease or hemochromatosis.

Immune System Problems
Autoimmune liver diseases occur when the immune system mistakenly attacks the liver. These include primary biliary cholangitis and autoimmune hepatitis.

Cancer
Tumors can develop when abnormal cells multiply in your liver.
They can be noncancerous (benign) or it can be
liver cancer (malignant).

Alcohol Consumption
Alcoholic fatty liver disease (AFLD) is a condition that results from the mismanagement of alcohol consumption. Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) is a similar condition that results from consuming too much fat. As rates of obesity and diabetes rise, so does the incidence of NAFLD.

 

Symptoms of Liver Disease

Liver disease is a condition that can lead to many different problems and symptoms.

It is important to be aware of these symptoms so that you can get treatment as soon as possible.

Liver disease can cause problems with the way your body metabolizes food.
This can lead to malnutrition and weight loss.

Liver disease can also cause problems with blood clotting.
This can lead to bleeding and bruising.

Liver disease can also cause problems with the production of bile.
This can lead to jaundice, which is a yellowing of the skin and eyes.

Medication can help to control the symptoms and slow the progression of the disease.

Should you experience any of these symptoms, it is advised that you seek medical attention.


Jaundice
One of the most common characteristics of liver disease is jaundice, which is a yellowing of the skin and eyes.

Jaundice occurs when the liver is not able to properly break down bilirubin, a yellow pigment that is formed when red blood cells are broken down.

Bilirubin builds up in the blood and is excreted in urine, giving it a yellow color.

Jaundice can also be caused by other conditions that damage the liver, such as hepatitis.
There are many different treatment options available for jaundice, depending on the underlying cause.

If jaundice is caused by liver damage, treatments may include medications to help protect the liver.

Fatigue
Fatigue is a common symptom of liver disease and can be caused by a number of different factors. The most common cause of fatigue in liver disease is anemia.

Anemia is a condition in which the body does not have enough healthy red blood cells to carry oxygen to the tissues. When the liver is not functioning properly, it can lead to anemia.

Nausea
Nausea is a common symptom of liver disease, and can be caused by a variety of factors, including liver damage, inflammation, and certain medications.

If you are experiencing nausea, it is important to talk to your doctor.

Weight Loss
Weight loss is a common symptom of liver disease, and it can be a very serious problem. If you are losing weight without trying, it is important to see your doctor.

Weight loss can be a sign of liver disease, and it can also be a sign of other health problems.

Abdominal Pain
Liver disease can cause pain in the abdomen because it can lead to inflammation of the liver.

This inflammation can cause the liver to swell, which in turn can cause pain. The pain may be worse when the liver is active, such as after a meal.

Treatment for liver disease may also cause abdominal pain. The pain may be caused by the medications used to treat the disease, or by the procedures used to diagnose or treat the disease.

If you are experiencing abdominal pain, it is important to talk to your doctor.

liver_disease_jaundice

 

Diagnosis of Liver Disease

There are several tests that can be used to diagnose liver disease, including blood tests, imaging tests, and biopsies.

Your doctor will likely order one or more of these tests to confirm a diagnosis and determine the best course of treatment.

 

Imaging Studies

Early diagnosis and treatment of liver disease is essential to preventing these complications. Imaging studies, such as ultrasound, CT scan, and MRI, can often be used to diagnose liver disease.

These studies can help to identify the cause of the liver disease, as well as the extent of damage.

 

Blood Tests

There are many different blood tests that can be used to diagnose liver disease.

These tests can measure the level of enzymes in the blood, proteins, and bilirubin. They can also help to determine how well the liver is functioning.

liver_disease_blood_test


Prevention of Liver Disease


Liver disease affected by your diet or lifestyle can be prevented by taking the following steps:

  • Avoid Alcohol or limit your alcohol intake
  • Make healthy choices when it comes to your diet. Avoid food and drinks containing trans fats or high sugar content.
  • Manage your medication intake. Medication are common causes of liver disease.
  • Exercise regularly
  • Limit red meat intake

liver_disease_infographic

 

Conclusion


In conclusion, liver disease is a very serious condition that can have a number of negative effects on the body.

If you think you may be at risk for liver disease, it is important to talk to your doctor and get tested. There are a number of treatments available for liver disease, so it is important to catch it early.

Contact Dr. Deetlefs today to book your appointment online or call us on 021-5518678. 

DISCLAIMER: PLEASE READ CAREFULLY

The information on this website is to provide general guidance. In no way does any of the information provided reflect definitive medical advice and self-diagnoses should not be made based on information obtained online. It is important to consult a Gastroenterologist or medical doctor regarding ANY and ALL symptoms or signs including, but not limited to: abdominal pain, haemorrhoids or anal / rectal bleeding as it may a sign of a serious illness or condition. A thorough consultation and examination should ALWAYS be performed for an accurate diagnosis and treatment plan. Be sure to call a physician or call our office today and schedule a consultation.

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© Dr. Eduan Deetlefs, Registered Gastroenterologist, GI Doc Cape Town

Our website information is not intended or implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Please consult a doctor about your specific condition. Only a trained physician can determine an accurate diagnosis and proper treatment.