7 Liver Diseases You Should Know (Symptoms and More…)

7 Liver Diseases You Should Know (Symptoms and More…)

Today we’re going to look at the commonly occurring types of liver diseases.

The liver is a very important organ that deals with the detoxification of the body, energy storage and metabolism. The organ helps digest the food we eat, convert it to energy, and store the energy until our body needs it. The liver also assists in filtering toxic substances (detoxification) out of the bloodstream.

What is liver disease?

(Image source: WebMD)

Liver disease is a general term that refers to any condition affecting your liver. There are many factors that lead to these liver diseases, but all of them damage your liver and affect its function.

The general symptoms

The symptoms of liver problems vary, and they depend on the underlying cause. But there are some usual symptoms that are indicators of a liver problem. Some of these symptoms are:

  • Decreased appetite
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Swollen ankles, legs, or abdomen
  • Dark-coloured urine.
  • Pale, bloody, or black stool
  • Itchy skin
  • Yellow skin and eyes (Jaundice).

7 Common Liver Diseases

Many conditions affect the liver. Here are a few liver diseases that occur commonly:

1. Liver failure

Chronic liver failure happens when a large part of your liver is damaged and can’t function properly. Usually, liver failure that’s related to cirrhosis and liver disease happens slowly. But it’s a serious condition that requires ongoing management. When it begins to manifest, there aren’t any symptoms. But as time passes by, you will notice:

  • Weakness and fatigue
  • Confusion
  • Nausea
  • Dirrhoea
  • Jaundice.

On the other hand, acute liver failure happens suddenly, often triggered by an overdose or poisoning.

2. Cirrhosis (one of the common liver diseases)

Cirrhosis, one of the many liver diseases.
(Image source: healthdirect)

Cirrhosis is the scarring that is caused by liver diseases and other catalysts of liver damage, such as alcohol use disorder. Syphilis (an STD) and cystic fibrosis may also lead to liver disease and eventually, cirrhosis. Your liver has the ability of regenerate in response to damage, but the process of it usually results in the development of scar tissue. As more of the scar tissue develops, the harder it is for the liver to function properly.

In the early stages, cirrhosis is often curable by addressing the underlying cause. But if left unadministered, cirrhosis can lead to other complications and become life-threatening.

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Let’s move on to the 3rd one.

3. Liver cancer

Cut section of a cancer-affected liver. Source: Mayo Clinic.

Liver cancer is also one of the popular liver problems out there. It first develops in the liver. If cancer starts elsewhere in the body but spreads to the liver, it is called secondary liver cancer.

Complications of other liver diseases, especially those that aren’t treated, may contribute to the development of liver cancer.

The most common type of liver cancer is hepatocellular carcinoma. It tends to develop as small spots of cancer in your liver, but it can also begin to manifest as a single tumor.

4. Genetic conditions

You could inherit several genetic conditions from one of your parents which can affect of liver, such as:

  • Hemochromatosis: This disorder causes your body to store more iron than it needs. This iron remains in your organs, including your liver. It could worsen your liver’s health over a long period of time if not treated.
  • Wilson’s disease: This ailment causes your liver to absorb copper instead of releasing into the bile ducts. Therefore, your liver may become too damaged to store more copper, allowing it to travel through your bloodstream and damage other parts of your body, including your brain.
  • Alpha-1 antitrypsin (AT) deficiency: Alpha-1 antitrypsin is a protein that helps prevent enzyme breakdowns throughout your body. And enzymes play a crucial role in digestion. The protein’s deficiency can cause lung disease as well as liver disease. There is no cure, but treatment can help.

ALSO READ: Herbs that can relieve your Stomach Problems

Eventually, the genetic conditions listed above can lead to severe liver problems.

5. Autoimmune disorders

Autoimmune disorders make your immune system attack the healthy cells in your body. These disorders attack cells and your liver, leading to liver diseases. Some of them are:

  • Primary sclerosing cholangitis: This is an inflammatory condition that causes gradual damage to the bile ducts, resulting in the bile being deposited in the liver. And this can lead to liver failure or cirrhosis.
  • Autoimmune hepatitis: The disorder causes your immune system to attack the liver, causing inflammation. If this is left untreated, it can also lead to liver failure and cirrhosis.
  • Primary biliary cirrhosis (PBC): PBC is a consequence of the damage of bile ducts in the liver. Afterwards, the bile builds up inside the liver. And yes, this again can result in liver failure and cirrhosis.

6. Fatty liver disease

When fat starts to accumulate in the liver, the situation can lead to fatty liver disease. There are two types of fatty liver disease:

  • Alcohol fatty liver disease: This is a result of heavy alcohol consumption.
  • Nonalcoholic fatty liver disease: This is caused by numerous factors that experts are still figuring out.

If fatty liver disease is not diagnosed, it can lead to several liver diseases such as the above mentioned ones of liver failure and cirrhosis.

7. Hepatitis

The last liver problem that you’re going to read about, hepatitis is a viral infection of the liver. Hepatitis causes inflammation and liver damage, adversely affecting the liver function. Additionally, all types of hepatitis are contagious. And there are five types of hepatitis: Hepatitis A, B, C, D and E. Sources of hepatitis include unprotected sex, blood, contaminated food and water.

As we’re done with the diseases, let’s look at the risk factors for these liver diseases.

Causes of liver diseases

Some lifestyle habits and things can increase the risk of the liver diseases mentioned above. These risk factors are:

  • Unsafe sex (also leads to STIs/STDs)
  • Excessive alcohol intake
  • Diabetes or high cholesterol levels in the body
  • Sharing needles
  • Genetic predisposition to liver diseases
  • Obesity
  • Exposure to toxins or pesticides.

Prevention or cure?

Several liver problems are chronic or long term in nature, and may never go away. But even they could be managed to an extent.

You can definitely make these simple lifestyle changes to keep the diseases on the side:

  • Limit your alcohol intake, if you have an alcohol use disorder
  • Maintain a healthy weight
  • Drink plenty of water
  • Consume a liver-friendly diet that includes plenty of fiber and is low in fat, salt and sugar.
  • People with Wilson’s disease can limit foods with copper like mushrooms, nuts and shellfish.

Conclusion

So far we have seen the common types of liver diseases or liver problems. Most of these are manageable if treated during the early stages. But if left untreated, they can permanently damage the liver. Some lifestyle changes and keeping the liver healthy with recommended and most importantly, prescribed herbal supplements can work wonders in keeping liver problems at bay.

If you have any symptoms of a liver problem or are at a risk of developing one, make sure to get yourself diagnosed from your doctor or healthcare provider.

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