Any condition that might harm the liver are referred to as “liver diseases” There are several forms of liver disease that can be brought on by infections, hereditary disorders, obesity, and alcohol abuse. Liver disease may eventually result in cirrhosis (scarring) along with additional serious health issues.
The second-largest organ in the human body, after the skin, is the liver. About the size of a football, it is located on the right side slightly under the ribs. The liver plays a crucial role in the digestive system by segregating nutrients and waste as they progress through the body. Additionally, it produces bile, which assists in digestion and transports toxins from the body.
Cirrhosis is a type of scarring that develops as a result of liver injury over time and can result in liver failure, a condition that can be life-threatening. The liver can no longer function normally when more scar tissue takes the place of healthy liver tissue. However, prompt treatment can give the liver enough time to recover.
There aren’t usually obvious signs and symptoms of liver disease. If liver disease symptoms do appear, they may include:
- Jaundice (yellowish discoloration of the skin and eyes)
- Abdominal pain and swelling (commonly at the right side)
- Bruising easily
- Swelling (edema) in the legs and ankles
- Itchy skin
- Dark urine color
- Pale stool color
- Chronic fatigue or weakness
- Nausea or vomiting
- Loss of appetite
If someone have any these signs and symptoms or indications that do not go away, they should schedule an appointment with their healthcare provider. If they are experiencing significant abdominal pain that makes it impossible for them to remain still, they should seek emergency medical treatment.
A number of causes can lead to different kinds of liver disease. Liver disease might be brought on by:
- Infection: The liver can get infected by parasites and viruses, which results in inflammation and decreased liver function. The viruses that harm the liver can be transmitted by contaminated food or water, blood or semen, or direct contact with an infected individual. Hepatitis A, hepatitis B, and hepatitis C are among the most common types of viral infections that can lead to hepatitis.
- Autoimmune: The liver may be affected by autoimmune diseases, which occur when the immune system unintentionally attacks certain body organs. This consists of primary biliary cholangitis, autoimmune hepatitis, and primary sclerosing cholangitis.
- Inherited disease: Some genetic conditions acquired from one or both parents can cause various substances to accumulate in the liver and lead to liver damage. Alpha-1 antitrypsin deficiency, Wilson’s disease, and hemochromatosis are examples of genetic liver diseases.
- Cancer: Tumors may form when abnormal liver cells grow and multiply. Benign (noncancerous) or malignant (liver cancer) tumors might be present.
- Consuming toxins: The usage of alcohol contributes to fatty liver disease. Too much fat consumption leads to non-alcohol-related fatty liver disease (NAFLD). With rising obesity trends, NAFLD is becoming more common. Certain components of herbs and over-the-counter as well as prescription medications may also cause liver damage.
The following factors could increase the risk of liver disease:
- Family history of liver disease
- Type 2 diabetes
- Excessive alcohol consumption
- Injecting and sharing needles
- Blood transfusion before 1992
- Other people’s blood and body fluids exposure
- Unprotected intercourse
- Chemicals or toxins exposure