WHAT IS LIVER DISEASE?
Your liver is a large organ that removes toxins, stores energy and aids in digestion. Liver disease affects the way your liver functions.
Types of liver diseases include:
- Fatty liver disease
- Liver cancer
- Inherited liver diseases
- Infections associated with hepatitis A, B or C
If left untreated, liver disease can lead to liver failure, a life-threatening condition that may require a liver transplant.
WHAT ARE THE SYMPTOMS OF LIVER DISEASE?
Common signs and symptoms that may indicate you have liver disease include:
- Itchy skin
- Abdominal pain or swelling
- Jaundice, or yellowing of the skin and eyes
- Nausea or vomiting
- Reduced appetite
- Edema in your legs and ankles
- Dark-colored urine
- Pale, tar-colored or bloody stool
- Easy bruising
- Chronic fatigue
WHAT ARE THE RISK FACTORS FOR LIVER DISEASE?
You have a higher risk of liver disease if you’re overweight, have diabetes, drink a lot of alcohol or are exposed to chemicals or toxins regularly.
Using shared needles, getting tattoos or body piercings, having unprotected sexual intercourse, or receiving a blood transfusion before 1992 boosts your risk of contracting hepatitis.
HOW IS LIVER DISEASE DIAGNOSED?
To diagnose liver disease, your gastroenterologist reviews your symptoms and medical history. They complete a comprehensive physical exam and may use blood tests, a liver biopsy or imaging procedures like CT scans, MRIs or ultrasounds to confirm a diagnosis and develop a treatment plan for you.
WHAT IS THE TREATMENT FOR LIVER DISEASE?
Your liver disease treatment depends on the type and severity of your condition. Our team may recommend:
Making lifestyle changes can help you better manage liver disease. Examples include avoiding alcohol and certain medicines, adopting a nutritious diet, and weight loss if you’re overweight.
Taking certain medications can prevent complications associated with liver disease. Your gastroenterologist lets you know which medicines, if any, best suit your needs.
In more severe cases of liver disease, surgery may be necessary to repair the damage, remove part of your liver or replace the liver with a healthy donor organ during liver transplantation.
The best way to prevent liver damage is to lead a healthy lifestyle, maintain a healthy weight, avoid risky behaviors, limit or avoid alcohol, and use medications wisely.