Diseases Diseases

What Are The Symptoms And Treatment Of Liver Diseases

Published at 07/18/2011 09:45:13

 Liver disease is any disturbance of liver function that causes illness. The liver is responsible for many critical functions within the body and should it become diseased or injured, the loss of those functions can cause significant damage to the body. Liver disease is also referred to as hepatic disease.

Liver disease is a broad term that covers all the potential problems that may occur to cause the liver to fail to perform its designated functions. Usually, more than 75% or three quarters of liver tissue needs to be affected before decrease in function occurs.

 What are the symptoms of liver disease?

Classic symptoms of liver disease include:

· nausea, 

· vomiting, 

· right upper quadrant abdominal pain, and 

· jaundice (a yellow discoloration of the skin due to elevated bilirubin concentrations in the bloodstream).

Fatigue, weakness and weight loss may also be occur.

However, since there are a variety of liver diseases, the symptoms tend to be specific for that illness until late-stage liver disease and liver failure occurs.

Examples of liver disease symptoms due to certain conditions or diseases include:

· A person with gallstones may experience right upper abdominal pain and vomiting after eating a greasy (fatty) meal. If the gallbladder becomes infected, fever may occur.

· Gilbert's disease have no symptoms.

· Individuals with cirrhosis will develop progressive symptoms as the liver fails. Some symptoms are directly related to the inability of the liver to metabolize the body's waste products. Others reflect the failure of the liver to manufacture proteins required for body function and may affect blood clotting function, secondary sex characteristics and brain function. Symptoms of cirrhosis of the liver include: 

· easy bruising may occur due to decreased production of clotting factors; 

· bile salts can deposit in the skin causing itching; 

· gynecomastia or enlarged breasts in men may occur because of an imbalance in sex hormones; specifically an increase in estradiol; 

· impotence (erectile dysfunction, ED), poor sex drive and shrinking testicles are due to decrease in function of sex hormones;

· confusion and lethargy may occur if ammonia levels rise in the blood stream (ammonia is a waste product formed from protein metabolism and requires normal liver cells to remove it); 

· ascites (fluid accumulation within the abdominal cavity) occurs because of decreased protein production; and

· muscle wasting may occur because of reduced protein production.

Additionally, there is increased pressure within the cirrhotic liver affecting blood flow through the liver. Increased pressure in the portal vein causes blood flow to the liver to slow and blood vessels to swell. Swollen veins (varices) form around the stomach and esophagus and are at risk for bleeding.

 What is the treatment for liver disease?

Each liver disease will have its own specific treatment regimen. For example, hepatitis A requires supportive care to maintain hydration while the body's immune system fights and resolves the infection. Patients with gallstones may require surgery to remove the gallbladder. Other diseases may need long-term medical care to control and minimize the consequences of their disease

In patients with cirrhosis and end-stage liver disease, medications may be required to control the amount of protein absorbed in the diet. The liver affected by cirrhosis may not be able to metabolize the waste products, resulting in elevated blood ammonia levels and hepatic encephalopathy. Low sodium diet and water pills (diuretics) may be required to minimize water retention.

In those with large amounts of ascites fluid, the excess fluid may have to be occasionally removed with a needle and syringe (paracentesis). Using local anesthetic, a needle is inserted through the abdominal wall and the fluid withdrawn.

Operations may be required to treat portal hypertension and minimize the risk of bleeding.

Liver transplantation is the final option for patients whose liver has failed.

Tips and comments:

Tips on how to prevent liver disease:

1. One of the best ways to help keep the liver healthy is by avoiding alcohol intake. If that is not possible for some people, taking alcohol in moderation may do as well.

2. It is important for people to know that a couple of drinks of alcohol a day that has become a habit for a number of years can be enough to lead to cirrhosis of the liver.

3. Another thing to avoid is mixing alcohol consumption with taking certain types of drugs. Taking acetaminophen like Tylenol along with alcohol can be toxic to the liver and may cause problems.

4. Certain types of prescription drugs may also have some effect on the liver. That is why it is also important to take medication in strict dosage as advised by the physician. Even taking herbal supplements may prove to be toxic with the liver.

5. Certain supplements such as kombucha tea, pennyroyal as well as skullcap may have some effects on the liver. Mixing them with taking prescription medication should be taken up with your doctor in order to avoid problems later on.

6. Another thing to avoid is eating too many fatty foods. One of the liver’s functions is producing all the cholesterol that the body needs.

7. Fatty foods may lead to too much cholesterol in the system and may somehow affect the liver. It is also important that a person is able to watch his or her weight. Obesity can lead to a condition called fatty liver disease.

8. Hepatitis is another disease that might affect the liver greatly. There are ways that they can be avoided. Getting vaccinated can help prevent the disease if you see yourself at an increased risk of contracting hepatitis.

9. There is a vaccine available for both hepatitis A and B. it is wise to consult with your doctor before taking such vaccines.


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