Overview of Liver Disease | Gastroenterology

Liver Disease

What is liver disease?

Liver disease is any condition that causes inflammation or damage to the liver and affects liver function. It defines both the cause and the effect it has on the liver. Causes Infection, injury, exposure to drugs or toxic compounds, an autoimmune process, or genetic defect that leads to the deposit and formation of harmful substances such as iron or copper. The effects of these lesions on the liver can include inflammation, scarring, obstruction, abnormal blood clotting, and liver failure.

Types of liver disease

There are many types of liver disease. Maintaining a healthy weight and staying within the recommended alcohol limits if you drink can help you avoid some of them.

Alcoholic liver disease

Alcoholic liver disease is liver damage that results from alcohol misuse. The least severe stage of alcoholic liver disease is alcoholic fatty liver disease, followed by alcoholic hepatitis and then alcoholic cirrhosis; some overlap exists between these stages. Symptoms generally occur only once the liver has been severely damaged. It is a common type of liver disease.

Symptoms
  • Feeling sick
  • Weight loss
  • Loss of appetite
  • Yellowing of the eyes and skin (jaundice)
  • Swelling in the ankles and tummy
  • Confusion or drowsiness
  • Vomiting blood or passing blood in your stools
Treatment

There is no particular treatment for alcoholic liver disease. In general, the first step is to avoid alcohol, in addition to avoiding other substances that can damage the liver. Although it can take months for the liver to heal, it can fully recover from this type of liver disease very quickly. Participating in a rehabilitation or counseling program can help you stay away from alcohol or treat alcoholism (alcoholism).

Occasionally, permanent damage such as cirrhosis and liver failure occurs. If the liver is irreversibly damaged, then a liver transplant is an option. Someone with a history of alcohol abuse in general (if it is not the main cause of alcohol) must successfully complete a rehab program before considering conversion as an option.

Cirrhosis

Cirrhosis is a condition in which the liver is permanently scarred and damaged. Scar tissue restores healthy liver tissue and stops your liver from running normally. As cirrhosis worsens, your liver begins to fail. It is a common type of liver disease.

Symptoms

The symptoms of cirrhosis depend on the stage of the disease. In the early stages, symptoms may not appear. As the disease progresses, symptoms may also appear:

  • Loss of appetite
  • Lack of energy (fatigue)
  • Weight loss or sudden weight gain
  • Bruises
  • Yellowing of the skin or the whites of eyes (jaundice)
  • Itchy skin
  • Fluid retention (edema) and swelling in the ankles, legs, and abdomen
  • A brownish or orange color to the urine
  • Light-colored stools
  • Confusion, disorientation, personality changes
  • Blood in the stool
  • Fever
Treatment

There is currently no treatment for cirrhosis. However, it is possible to control the symptoms and any problems and slow down their progress.

Treating underlying conditions, such as using antiviral medications to treat hepatitis C infection, can also stop the exacerbation of cirrhosis.

You may be advised to cut back on alcohol or refrain from alcohol or lose weight if you are overweight. A wide range of alcohol-related support services is available.

In more advanced stages, scars caused by cirrhosis can cause the liver to stop working. In this case, liver transplantation is the only treatment option.

Hepatitis

Hepatitis is an inflammation of the liver. Inflammatory inflammation that occurs when tissues in the body are injured or infected. It can damage your liver. How well this inflammation and damage affect your liver function.

Hepatitis can be an acute infection (short-term) or a chronic infection (chronic). Some types of hepatitis only cause serious infections. Other types can cause serious and chronic infections. It is a common type of liver disease.

Symptoms
  • Dark urine
  • Stomach pain
  • Yellow skin or eye whites called jaundice
  • Pale or clay-colored stool
  • Low-grade fever
  • Loss of appetite
  • Fatigue
  • Feeling sick to your stomach
  • Aching joints
Treatment

The NIH says that more serious hepatitis infections caused by the hepatitis A, B, C, and E viruses will resolve on their own in several weeks or months. However, severe cases of acute hepatitis B can be treated with antiviral medications such as lamivudine (brand name Epivir).

Chronic hepatitis B and C infections (that do not get better on their own after a few months) can be treated with injections of pegylated interferon (peginterferon) injections or oral antivirals such as lamivudine for hepatitis B or ribavirin (brand name Copegus, Rebetol, Ribasphere) for hepatitis C. The NIH states that ribavirin must be taken with peginterferon to be an effective treatment for C. Liver transplantation may be necessary if the liver is severely damaged.

Acute liver failure

Acute liver failure (ALF) occurs when many cells in the liver die or are severely damaged in a short period of time. This makes the liver not work. As a result, patients may be less alert or go into a coma. Since it happens so fast, it is very necessary to get care quickly. Severe liver failure in children is very rare. It is a common type of liver disease.

Symptoms

Early symptoms include:

  • Nausea
  • Loss of appetite
  • Fatigue
  • Diarrhea

However, as liver failure progresses, symptoms become more severe and require urgent attention. These are the symptoms:

  • Jaundice
  • Bleeding easily
  • Swollen abdomen
  • Mental disorientation or confusion (known as hepatic encephalopathy)
  • Sleepiness
  • Coma
Treatment

Acute liver failure is a medical emergency and patients are usually treated in the intensive care unit. This treatment restores liver function and prevents further damage and complications. The following are some of the treatment options available for acute liver failure:

  1. Medications: Acetylcysteine is indicated for the treatment of acute liver failure caused by an overdose of acetaminophen. Medications are prescribed that can reverse the effects of toxins and reduce liver damage depending on the cause of liver failure.
  2. Liver transplant: If liver failure cannot be reversed with medications and other therapies, your doctor may prescribe a liver transplant.

Medications are prescribed to control the symptoms of acute liver failure.

Autoimmune liver disease

Autoimmune hepatitis is a chronic disease in which the body’s immune system attacks normal parts or cells of the liver and causes inflammation and liver damage. The immune system generally protects people from infection by detecting and destroying bacteria, viruses, and other harmful foreign substances. It is a common type of liver disease.

Symptoms

The most common symptoms are:

  • Tiredness and usually feeling unwell
  • Loss of appetite

Other symptoms are:

  • Nausea (feeling sick) or being sick
  • Abdominal pain
  • Jaundice with dark urine and pale stools (poo)
  • Joint and muscle pain
  • Weight loss
  • Itching
  • Fever
  • Nose bleeds, bleeding gums, and bruising easily
  • Amenorrhoea¬†
  • Diarrhea¬†
Treatment

Doctors treat autoimmune hepatitis with drugs that suppress your immunity, usually with or without corticosteroids – prednisone or prednisolone azathioprine. These medications can cause side effects. If autoimmune hepatitis causes liver failure or liver cancer, you may need a liver transplant.

Departments to consult for this condition

  • Department of Gastroenterology

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