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Liver Disease: Fatty Liver, Hepatitis, Cirrhosis, and More
The liver is the body's second largest internal organ in the upper right side of the belly. The liver's primary job is to filter out harmful substances and convert nutrients from the diet into usable forms. The liver acts as a filter for blood coming from the digestive system before sending it throughout the body.
Fatty liver disease (steatosis) is a frequent ailment caused by fat accumulation in liver cells. Almost one in ten people will be diagnosed with this. While some fat in the liver is expected, if it makes up more than 10% of the organ's mass, ( According to betterhealth) you have fatty liver and are at risk for major health problems.
With time, liver inflammation can cause scarring and hardening of the organ. Cirrhosis is a dangerous disease that frequently results in liver failure. Cirrhosis is a serious health problem.
Types of Liver Diseases
Listed below are major liver diseases −
To put it simply, NAFLD refers to liver fat accumulation that is not attributable to alcohol consumption. This chronic liver ailment is more common in those with certain risk factors, especially abdominal obesity.
Nonalcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH) is characterized by fat accumulation in the liver, inflammation, and cell destruction. NASH can eventually develop into cirrhosis if left untreated.
In most cases, NAFLD has no noticeable symptoms. Weight loss is the best treatment.
Hepatitis A is a contagious illness that lasts for a few weeks and is typically spread through eating tainted food. The virus is transmitted from human to human through feces and blood via the "fecal-oral" pathway.
Hepatitis A, like other kinds of hepatitis, causes liver inflammation. Fever, exhaustion, loss of appetite, nausea, and diarrhea are some of the first signs. Hepatitis A often only lasts a few weeks in otherwise healthy persons before clearing up independently. Hepatitis A can cause severe illness and even death in persons with preexisting liver disease or who are otherwise unhealthy.
Contact with infected blood, sperm, or other bodily fluids is the primary mode of transmission for the virus that causes hepatitis B. Cirrhosis, liver failure, and even liver cancer are just some of the complications that can arise from this condition can be either acute or chronic.
Many persons with acute hepatitis B have no symptoms. Still, for some, the illness might manifest as fever, lethargy, loss of appetite, nausea, vomiting, and stomach pain, much like hepatitis A.
Blood-to-blood contact is the primary mode of transmission for the hepatitis C virus. In the past, hepatitis C might have been transmitted through blood transfusions and organ transplants. But this is now extremely unlikely to happen because of advances in blood screening. Several members of the baby boomer generation in the United States contracted hepatitis C before universal blood screening became commonplace.
Damage to the liver, pancreas, bones, and testicles can occur in those with the inherited illness known as hemochromatosis, which causes the body to absorb more iron than it needs. Cirrhosis, caused by iron overload in the liver, is a known risk factor for liver cancer. Type 2 diabetes has been linked to high levels of iron in the pancreas.
The liver becomes scarred and irreversibly destroyed in cirrhosis. The last stage of chronic liver disease is typically due to excessive alcohol consumption, fatty liver disease, or a viral infection. Because scar tissue has replaced the liver's healthy tissue, the organ can no longer perform its regular functions.
Cirrhosis symptoms include loss of appetite, weariness, weight loss or gain, itchy skin, urine that is dark or orange, feces that are light in color, blood in the stools, and fever.
Fatty liver disease is a silent illness until it causes liver diseases. Possible signs and symptoms include −
Pain or fullness in the upper right quadrant of the stomach.
Loss of appetite, sickness, or nausea may occur.
Whites of the eyes and a yellowish complexion (jaundice).
Abdominal and lower limb swelling (edema).
Mental or physical exhaustion to an extreme degree.
Many people with fatty liver don't realize they have it until a routine test reveals an abnormality in the liver.
Fatty liver can be diagnosed after a conversation with your doctor and a physical check. A liver function test is a blood test used to evaluate liver health. Scans like an ultrasound or MRI may also be requested.
The results of these tests may indicate the need for additional diagnostic procedures if fatty liver is found.
Your primary care physician can recommend a specialist consultation after reviewing your test results (gastroenterologist). A doctor may arrange a liver biopsy to confirm the diagnosis and evaluate the severity of the disease in extreme cases.
Alcoholic liver disease and nonalcoholic fatty liver disease are the two most common liver diseases. While the alcoholic liver disease is associated with excessive drinking, nonalcoholic fatty liver disease is associated with metabolic syndrome.
Some of the things that can go wrong with your liver include −
High triglycerides, high blood sugar, low HDL (good cholesterol), high blood pressure, and abdominal obesity are all components of metabolic syndrome, a cluster of health risks.
Drinking too much
Hepatitis B and C, which cause chronic liver infections, are examples.
Causes of liver disease, both inherited and acquired
Diseases of the liver caused by the immune system
For nonalcoholic fatty liver, doctors advise losing weight. Fat, inflammation, and fibrosis in the liver can all be improved by losing weight. If your doctor suspects that a certain medication is to blame for your NAFLD, you should discontinue using that drug. But before you stop taking the medication, talk to your doctor. You may require a gradual taper of the medication and a switch to a different treatment altogether.
Now, there are no medications for NAFLD treatment. Vitamin E and other diabetes medications are being studied for their potential to aid, but more research is needed.
Quitting drinking is the cornerstone of treatment for alcoholic liver damage. See a therapist or join an alcohol rehab program if you need assistance. Some medications can assist, such as those that make you feel sick if you drink alcohol or reduce your desire for it.
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