“Liver disease” is a general term used to describe a number of conditions that can impact the liver and its ability to function properly. This article addresses the many ailments that can affect the liver and offers treatment advice for those suffering from liver disease.
Types of Liver Disease
There are well over a hundred types of liver disease. Most individuals are not aware of the many different conditions that can affect this vital organ.
- The most common forms of liver disease include:
- Hepatitis (A, B, C, etc.)
- Cirrhosis/fibrosis of the liver (which may also be labeled as “alcoholic liver disease”)
- Liver cancer
- Fatty liver disease (alcoholic and non-alcoholic)
- Gilbert’s syndrome
- Budd-Chiari syndrome
- Primary biliary cirrhosis
- Primary sclerosing cholangitis
- and more…
Diagnosis of Liver Disease
Liver disease may be diagnosed through a variety of methods. Often, patients undergo a physical examination with their doctors. If there is evidence suggesting that there may be a liver condition present, most physicians will recommend that their patients undergo a liver function test (LFT). These tests can help doctors determine what sort of conditions may be afflicting their patients. Imaging, such as ultrasounds, and further tests may be performed before a definitive diagnosis is made.
Treatment of Liver Disease
Liver disease will be managed in different ways, depending upon the condition(s) that a patient is suffering from.
Alcoholic and non-alcoholic liver conditions such as fatty liver disease and cirrhosis will generally be treated through lifestyle modification techniques. Patients will generally be required to abstain from drinking alcoholic beverages, improve their diets, and exercise more. Conditions like fatty liver disease are often reversible if patients are proactive in improving their health after receiving a diagnosis.
Hepatitis B and C sufferers do not yet have permanent solutions for their conditions. As these viruses cannot be eliminated from the body, the best treatment method is to manage the disease with medication. With sufficient medicinal treatment, HBV and HCV patients can protect their livers and prolong their lives. Patients with hepatitis may also use steroid-based medications to reduce the damage caused by the virus.
In conditions like Wilson’s Disease, drugs can be used to remove excess copper from the body. This will prevent patients from experiencing most symptoms associated with the condition. In patients with hemochromatosis, blood may be removed from the body to prevent excess iron buildup in the liver.
In some conditions, medications can also be used to improve the flow of bile from the liver.
Liver disease treatment will vary depending upon a patient’s particular health condition. Though some forms of liver disease are reversible, many are not. In these conditions, patients must simply do their best to manage their medication and lifestyle choices so as to prevent further liver damage from occurring.
If you suspect that you may be suffering from liver damage, consult your doctor as soon as possible. The sooner you begin treating your condition, the better your quality of life will be.