What are some of the symptoms of liver disease ?
The most important thing to recognize about liver disease is that up to 50 percent of individuals with underlying liver disease have no symptoms. The most common symptoms are very non-specific and they include fatigue or excessive tiredness, lack of drive, occasionally itching.
Signs of liver disease that are more prominent are jaundice or yellowing of the eyes and skin, dark urine, very pale or light colored stool or bowel movements, bleeding from the GI tract, mental confusion, and retention of fluids in the abdomen or belly.
Diagnosis of Liver Disease
Can liver damage be reversed ?
The liver is a unique organ. It is the only organ in the body that is able to regenerate... that is completely repair the damage. With most organs, such as the heart, the damaged tissue is replaced with scar, like on the skin. The liver, however, is able to replace damaged tissue with new cells.
An extreme example is a patient who suffers an overdose from Tylenol. In this example up to 50 - 60 percent of the liver cells may be killed within 3 - 4 days. However, if no other complications arise, the patient's liver will repair completely, and a liver biopsy after 30 days will appear completely normal with no signs of damage and no scar. However, the long-term complications of liver disease occur when regeneration is either incomplete or prevented by progressive development of scar tissue within the liver.
Some of the most common liver diseases that lead to liver transplantation include : -
- Acute liver failure
- Alagille syndrome
- Alpha-1 antitrypsin deficiency
- Autoimmune hepatitis
- Biliary atresia
- Glycogen storage disease
- Hepatocellular carcinoma (Hepatoma)
- Primary sclerosing cholangitis
- Progressive familial intrahepatic cholestasis (PFIC
- Urea cycle disorder
- Wilson's Disease
The causes of cirrhosis include the following : -
- Alcohol consumption. Excess alcohol consumption is a primary cause of cirrhosis. However, only 10 percent to 20 percent of alcoholics develop cirrhosis.
Because heavy drinkers consume a substantial number of calories as alcohol, they consume less vitamin- and mineral-rich food than they otherwise might, exacerbating alcohol-induced nutritional deficiencies. Virtually all individuals with alcoholic hepatitis suffer from malnutrition to a degree more or less proportional to the severity of their disease (Mendenhall CL et al 1984).
- Hepatitis. Hepatitis, another common cause of liver cirrhosis, is caused by infection with the hepatitis B or C virus. Because the symptoms of infection are mild and flulike, viral hepatitis often goes undiagnosed. Blood donors sometimes find out they are infected when their donated blood undergoes routine screening.
Viral hepatitis causes chronic liver inflammation, which results in cirrhosis in the majority of those infected.
Treatment of Liver Disease
The goal of medicine with regard to the liver is to prevent liver disease and, if it is diagnosed, to stop its progression toward cirrhosis. Cirrhosis is an end-stage disease with a poor prognosis and can require a liver transplant if liver failure occurs. Thus, lifestyle changes that support liver health, especially abstention from alcohol, are the cornerstone of treatment for liver disease. No matter the cause of cirrhosis, alcohol aggravates the condition and should be avoided.
In addition, physicians will attempt to treat the complications of cirrhosis, including portal hypertension and ascites, with various medications. In general, however, the use of medications must be approached with caution in people with liver disease because the liver metabolizes many of these substances. For example, aspirin should be avoided in patients with cirrhosis because of its effects on coagulation and the gastric mucosa.
Liver treatments include :-
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