Common problems with the liver: Symptoms, diseases, diagnosis, and treatment

Common problems with the liver: symptoms, diseases, diagnosis, and treatment

The liver is the vital organ of our body, and what if it stops working? Still not convinced? There are many common problems with the liver that slowly stops the liver from functioning and lead to liver failure.

Let me explain common liver problems, their symptoms, diagnosis, and treatment

What is liver problems?

It is the body’s largest organ after the skin, as its size is equal to that of football. It is under the ribcage on the right side of the body. Its primary function is to separate nutrients from the waste when it passes through the digestive system.

Moreover, it also produces bile which is very helpful in digesting and taking toxins out of the body. Liver problems are any conditions that damage our life functions and usually stop the liver from working.

If such conditions are not treated on time, they seriously threaten human health and lead to liver failure and cancer.

How common are liver diseases?

It has been observed that 1 out of 10 Americans has a liver problem. Similarly, 5.5 million people in America are suffering from chronic liver disease and cirrhosis.

The primary reason for the increase in liver infections is obesity, as it was reported that an estimated 20-30% of adults have excess fat in their liver, and it is a condition known as nonalcoholic fatty liver disease. However, it is converted with metabolic conditions like high blood pressure, cholesterol, and diabetes.

General symptoms

Liver infections do not have notable symptoms in the early stages however following are the symptoms you may observe

  1. Skin and eyes that appear yellowish (jaundice)
  2. Abdominal pain and swelling
  3. Swelling in the legs and ankles
  4. Itchy skin
  5. Dark urine color
  6. Pale stool color
  7. Chronic fatigue
  8. Nausea or vomiting
  9. Loss of appetite
  10. Tendency to bruise easily

Causes of liver disease

Strictly speaking following are the major causes of the liver problems, so be warned and try to protect your heart from ailments

Infection

Parasites and viruses damage the liver and cause inflammation. Such deadly virus may enter your body through semen, blood, contaminated food, and water.

Liver problems are also spread by close contact with suffering patients. The following are the most common types of hepatitis infection caused by the virus.

  1. Hepatitis A
  2. Hepatitis B
  3. Hepatitis C

Immune system abnormality

Sometimes the immune system starts functioning abnormally and eating the body’s organs. The following are major autoimmune liver diseases

  1. Autoimmune hepatitis
  2. Primary biliary cholangitis
  3. Primary sclerosing cholangitis

Genetic

An abnormal gene travels from parents to children and causes severe infection. Many liver problems are caused by genetics

  1. Hemochromatosis
  2. Wilson’s disease
  3. Alpha-1 antitrypsin deficiency

Cancer and other growths

Read on to learn about liver cancer and growth that are very deadly and need harsh treatments like liver placement; if not treated on time leads to liver failure and ultimately death.

  1. Liver cancer
  2. Bile duct cancer
  3. Liver adenoma

Others

Can other conditions lead to living damage? You are dead right! Please stick with me here to know the top 5 different causes of liver damage

  1. Chronic alcohol abuse
  2. Fat accumulation in the liver (nonalcoholic fatty liver disease)
  3. Specific prescription or over-the-counter medications
  4. Certain herbal compounds

Risk factors

Check out the list of other risk factors for liver diseases and if you are involved in any of these activities or situations, try your best to change yourself and choose a better lifestyle.

  1. Heavy alcohol use
  2. Obesity
  3. Type 2 diabetes
  4. Tattoos or body piercings
  5. Injecting drugs using shared needles
  6. Blood transfusion before 1992
  7. Exposure to other people’s blood and body fluids
  8. Unprotected sex
  9. Exposure to certain chemicals or toxins
  10. Family history of liver disease

Common problems with liver

A few diseases are now regarded as common problems of the liver as every other human is their victim. Read on

Hepatitis

Hepatitis is the name of liver inflammation, and it damages the liver so badly that it fails to perform its function. The cause of hepatitis is a virus known as viral hepatitis.

Can I be frank with you? Hepatitis is deadly; however, you can control A and B types by vaccination and taking general measures, for example, wearing a condom during sex.

Following are the 5 types of hepatitis

  • Hepatitis A

It is spread by contaminated water and foods, and you can overcome its symptoms in just a few days without treatment; however, recovery can take hours.

  • Hepatitis B

It can be both acute and chronic, and blood and semen play a significant role in its spread. It can be treated only in the early stages and becomes incurable if not controlled in the early stages.

  • Hepatitis C

It can be both acute and chronic, and you can become the victim by handling the blood of a hepatitis C patient. It is a deadly type of virus as it leads to virus inflammation without showing any symptoms.

  • Hepatitis D

It is hazardous to human health, and only hepatitis B patients are affected by it.

  • Hepatitis E

A mild virus enters our body through dirty water and goes away within a few weeks without any medications.

Fatty lipid disease

Fatty acid deposition is the leading cause of fatty acid lipid disease, and it has been divided into two types

  • Alcohol fatty liver disease due to overconsumption of alcohol
  • Nonalcoholic fatty liver diseases due to other factors

It would help if you medicated both conditions at the early stages as it becomes challenging to treat them after some time. Moreover, both conditions lead to cirrhosis and liver failure.

Autoimmune conditions

In these conditions, cells of the immune system attack the liver, and the following are the major autoimmune diseases

1.       Autoimmune hepatitis

There is a severe attack on your body during this condition; if it is not controlled, it can lead to cirrhosis and liver failure.

2.       Primary biliary cirrhosis

Due to a damaged bile duct, bile accumulates in the liver, eventually leading to liver failure and cirrhosis.

3.       Primary sclerosing cholangitis

During this condition, the bile duct starts to damage slowly and eventually, and there is a bile duct blocking. Thus, bile accumulation in the liver causes liver failure and cirrhosis.

4.       Drug-induced liver diseases

Some supplements and drugs damage our liver, and we can stop the damage by preventing the intake of drugs.

5.       Genetics

Genetic diseases transfer from one generating to another, and the following are genetic disorders of the liver

1.       Hemochromatosis

There is more storage of iron than usual in organs, due to which organs get damaged

2.       Wilson’s disease

There is the absorption of copper in the liver instead of its release through the bile duct. When the liver’s capacity is completed, it travels to other body organs and damages them.

Alpha 1 antitrypsin

In this condition, our liver fails to make enough alpha 1antitrypsin which is very important for stopping the enzyme breakdown in the body. It affects both lungs and liver. You can control it, but it’s impossible to cure it.

Cancer

Liver cancer starts in the liver; however, if cancer reaches other parts of the body, it is known as secondary cancer. Hepatocellular carcinoma is the most common liver cancer.

There is the production of minor cancer sports on the liver; however, in most cases, it may originate from a single spot.

The primary cause of liver cancer is certain liver complications that remain untreated for a long time.

Liver failure

It is known as a liver failure when most of the liver is damaged and cannot function properly. It is a long process, but it is challenging to spot liver failure at an early stage because no symptom appears.

You may see these symptoms

  1. Jaundice
  2. Diarrhea
  3. Confusion
  4. Fatigue and weakness
  5. Nausea

It would be best to manage the condition seriously by taking regular medications; however, acute cancer can occur at once due to an overdose of medicine and poisoning.

Cirrhosis

It results from other liver diseases and complications, such as alcohol consumption. Similarly, in some cases, it has been seen that cystic fibrosis and syphilis also lead to cirrhosis.

The liver can regenerate after damage, but more significant development leads to more scar tissues that stop the liver from functioning properly.

You can only treat the ailment in the early stages; if it is not managed at the early stages, it can become life-threatening.

Am i at risk?

You should immediately go to the doctor if you are facing the following conditions

  1. Your stool and urine color has changed
  2. Juidance and yellowing of eyes
  3. Pain in the upper side of the abdomen
  4. Your arms and legs are swelled

Preventing liver diseases

Some liver ailments are not in our control; however, we can keep our liver healthy by choosing a healthy lifestyle. According to the American liver foundation, we can prevent liver diseases by following these guidelines

1.      Avoid risky behavior

Always use condoms during sex as semen transfer is one of the significant reasons for hepatitis spread. Similarly, if you take an intravenous drug, ensure the syringe is new.

For tattoos and piercing, always choose a good place that uses sterilized instruments as cheap places do not use good tools and can transfer different diseases.

2.      Get vaccinated

Although vaccines against all hepatitis are not available, scientists are trying. However, a vaccine for hepatitis A and B is readily available.

If you are at the risk of infection or have had an infection in the past, ask your doctor and get vaccinated.

3.      Use medications wisely

Always use prescribed medicines and only take the recommended dose. Never mix the medication with alcohol and herbal drugs, and if you are starting a herbal treatment, discuss it with your doctor and ask for advice.

4.      Limit alcohol intake

You need to check your alcohol intake to protect yourself from serious ailments. For adult women, one drink is recommended per day and 2 drinks for males.

If a woman is taking more than 8 drinks per week and a woman is taking more than 12 drinks per week, he may end up damaging her liver.

5.      Avoid contact with people’s blood and body fluids

Hepatitis can spread through body fluids and blood, so if you have to deal with body fluids and blood, never work with bare hands

Instead, always wear gloves and do not touch your mouth, nose, and eyes. It is also recommended to change gloves while dealing with a new patient.

6.      Keep your food safe

Always wash all vegetables, fruit, and your hands before eating and preparing food. Use cleaned and sterilized utensils for preparing food.

Similarly, if you are in a developing country, use bottled water and wash your hand, mouth, and face often with running water.

7.      Protect your skin

If you are dealing with insecticides and pesticides, wear sleeves, a mask, and glasses, and try your best to protect your skin from such harmful chemicals as they can lead to liver complications.

8.      Maintain a healthy weight

Obesity is not only the leading cause of heart problems but is known as the mother of diseases; thus, it is the base of many diseases. Try your best to maintain your weight according to your BMI.

9.      Take care with aerosol sprays

Never use insecticides, pesticides, fungicides, and aerosol sprays in a closed room, and always wear a mask while dealing with them. Please go through the manufacturer’s instructions and follow them.

Diagnosis of liver disease

If you are conscious about your liver and heart and feel something has happened, get an appointment with a doctor. The doctor will ask about your medical history and want to know if there is a liver problem in the family history.

Now you will have to tell me about your diet and the symptoms you are facing. Tell him everything you eat, for example, supplements and other drugs.

Now doctor may make the following recommendations

  1. Liver Biopsy

In this process, the specialist uses a thin layer to take out a small amount of liver tissue, later used for liver tissue studies and diagnosis of different diseases.

  1. Blood Test

Liver enzymes measure the level of liver enzymes in the blood. Besides, there is a liver clotting test known as the international normalized ratio.

If your ratio is beyond the accepted range, it gives signs of liver disease.

  1. Imaging Test

Provides also uses CT-scan, MRI, and X-rays to see if tissue is damaged in liver and tumor studies. Fibroscan is a particular type of ultrasound widely used to find the liver’s degree of scaring and fat deposition.

Treatment of liver disease

Chronic infections are long-lasting, and it is impossible to cure them completely; however, one can manage and keep them in control.

  1. Changes lifestyle

It would help if you made the following changes in your lifestyle to control the symptoms

  1. Do not over-consume alcohol
  2. Drink a large amount of water
  3. Maintain your weight
  4. Taking a diet that is liver friendly means it should have a large amount of fiber
  5. Avoid unhealthy fatty acids, refined sugars, and salts
  6. Medications                             

The doctor will prescribe some medicines, and you must take a few for a short time but some for your whole life. It can be antiviral drugs to control hepatitis or medications for controlling genetic disorders.

  • Liver transplant

Sometimes, doctors remove the damaged part of the liver, so it does not affect the healthy amount.

If none of the above is working, doctors go towards liver transplant, it is an expensive treatment, and you have to bear pain very much.

Other Treatments

Let me take a wild guess depending on your conditions; doctors may also give you some other instructions.

For example, doctors of patients suffering from Wilson’s disease ask them to avoid foods containing copper, such as nuts and mushrooms.

Following are other medical conditions

  1. Antiviral drugs to treat hepatitis
  2. Steroids to lower liver inflammation
  3. Blood pressure medication
  4. Antibiotics
  5. Medications to target specific symptoms, such as itchy skin
  6. Vitamins and supplements to boost liver health

To Sum up

Let us recap! Drugs, obesity, bacteria, and certain viruses typically stop the liver functioning and cause different diseases, for example, autoimmune response, fatty acid liver diseases, hepatitis, etc.

It would help if you treated these conditions on time as they lead to liver failure and cancer during an old stage. Significant symptoms are guidance, blood in pee, itchiness, pale skin, etc.

If you see any of these symptoms, go to the doctor, he may do a blood test or biopsy, depending on your condition. Take proper medication and follow doctors’ instructions to control the liver problem as they cannot be removed totally.

Good luck and take care of yourself

References

https://www.healthline.com/health/liver-diseases

https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/liver-problems/symptoms-causes/syc-20374502

https://www.medicinenet.com/liver_disease/article.htm

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