What are Liver Diseases?

Dr Foram Bhuta

Dr Foram Bhuta

BDS (Bachelor of Dental Surgery), 10 years of experience

February 14, 2022 Liver Section 274 Views

English हिन्दी Bengali

What is the meaning of Liver Disease?

A buildup of fats in the liver is known as fatty liver disease.

The liver is the largest organ in the body that performs many essential functions. A healthy liver contains only a small amount of fat, but when an excessive amount of fat accumulates, it results in fatty liver disease.  The liver is the most common site for fat accumulation as it plays a role in fat metabolism, that is, the conversion of fats into energy.  In most cases, fatty liver disease does not cause any serious problems, nor does it prevent the liver from functioning normally. It is only in a small number of people that this condition progressively worsens over time and can cause scarring of the liver. 

Fatty liver disease is also referred to as the “silent liver disease” as, in most cases, it does not cause any symptoms and is usually diagnosed during routine blood tests. With timely diagnosis and lifestyle changes, fatty liver disease is totally reversible and preventable. 

Let us know in detail about fatty liver disease in today’s article.

  • What are the different types of Liver Diseases?
  • What are the causes of Liver Diseases?
  • What are the risk factors for Liver Diseases?
  • What are the symptoms of Liver Diseases?
  • How to diagnose Liver Diseases?
  • What are the treatments for Liver Diseases?
  • What are the complications of Liver Diseases?
  • How do prevent Liver Diseases?

What are the different types of Liver Diseases?

The two main types of fatty liver disease include:

  • Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD): This condition is related to an increased buildup of fat in the liver that is not related to excessive consumption of alcohol. This condition affects about 9%-32% of the Indian population and is most commonly seen in diabetic, obese, and older people. NAFLD is of two types:
  • Simple fatty liver: In this condition, there is an excessive accumulation of fat in the liver without any inflammation and damage to the liver cells. Simple fatty liver does not usually affect liver functions and is the most common type of fatty liver disease. 
  • Non-alcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH): It is a type of fatty liver disease associated with inflammation and liver cell damage along with an excessive buildup of fat. NASH is a relatively severe condition and can cause complications, such as liver fibrosis and cirrhosis, which are types of liver scarring and can even cause liver cancer. 

( Know more about- What is Liver Diseases? )

  1. Alcoholic fatty liver: As the name suggests, this type of fatty liver disease is caused due to excessive intake of alcohol. This condition is preventable and usually gets better after the reduction of alcohol intake. However, if alcohol consumption is not reduced it could cause complications, such as:
  • Enlarged liver
  • Alcoholic hepatitis (swelling in the liver)
  • Alcoholic cirrhosis (the buildup of scar tissue in the liver)

( Know more about- What is Wilson’s Disease? )

What are the causes of Liver Diseases?

Fatty liver can occur due to many causes, such as:

  • Alcohol consumption 
  • Obesity 
  • Insulin resistance, in which cells do not take up glucose in response to the hormone insulin
  • Diabetes 

( Know more about- What is Diabetes? )

  • Increased levels of triglycerides (LDH) and cholesterol in the body

( Know more about- What is Cholesterol? Causes of High Cholesterol )

  • Starvation 
  • Protein calorie malnutrition 
  • Chronic (long-term) illnesses, such as tuberculosis

( Know more about- What is Tuberculosis? )

  • Hypoxia is a condition in which there is decreased oxygen-carrying capacity, for example, anemia (lack of red blood cells in the body) and cardiac failure (failure of the heart to pump blood to the rest of the body)

( Know more about- What is Anemia? )

  • Exposure to toxins, such as carbon tetrachloride, chloroform, ether, and other poisons
  • Drug-induced liver cell injury, such as administration of steroids, tetracycline, halothane anesthetic, etc.
  • Metabolic syndrome, includes insulin resistance, high blood pressure, high triglycerides, and high blood sugar.
  • Underactive thyroid and pituitary gland

( Know more about- What are Thyroid Disorders? )

  • Other causes: Other causes of liver diseases may include:
  • Alcohol abuse
  • Use of certain medications
  • Accumulation of fat in the liver (non-alcoholic fatty liver disease)
  • Use of certain herbal products 

( Know more about- What is Metadoxine? Uses and Benefits of Metadoxine )

What are the risk factors for Liver Diseases?

Certain factors increase the risk of developing fatty liver disease and may include:

  • Obesity ( Know more about- What is Obesity ? )
  • Old age 
  • Type 2 diabetes or prediabetes
  • High levels of fat, such as triglycerides and cholesterol, in the blood
  • High blood pressure ( Know more about- What is Hypertension ? )
  • Infections, such as hepatitis C
  • Certain cancer drugs ( Know more about- What is Chemotherapy ? )
  • Exposure to toxins
  • Post-menopausal women

 ( Know more about- What is Menopause and its treatments?)

What are the symptoms of Liver Diseases?

Non-alcoholic fatty liver is a silent liver disease and usually does not show any symptoms. However, some individuals may show the following symptoms:

  • Fatigue 
  • Weakness
  • Abdominal pain 
  • Abdominal swelling ( Know more about- Causes of stomach bloating )
  • Discomfort in the upper right abdomen (stomach)

When fatty liver is associated with liver cell damage and inflammation such as in NASH, the conditions present with the following symptoms:

  • Ascites (abnormal buildup of fluid in the abdomen)
  • Edema (swelling)
  • Jaundice (yellowish discoloration of the outer layer of the eyeball and skin due to the pigment bilirubin)

( Know more about- Diet for jaundice patients )

  • Enlargement of the blood vessels beneath the surface of the skin
  • Mental confusion
  • Increased bruising 

How to diagnose Liver Diseases?

Fatty liver disease usually does not produce any signs and symptoms and is therefore difficult to diagnose. The following diagnostic tests may help in detecting a fatty liver disease:

  • Physical examination: Diagnosis of fatty liver disease usually occurs when the doctor palpates your liver during a routine physical examination and notices that it is enlarged Your doctor will also take a detailed history of your medications, diet, alcohol consumption and ask about other health conditions that you might have.  
  • Blood tests: Blood tests like complete blood count (CBC) help in diagnosing fatty liver disease. Liver function tests help to check for elevated liver enzymes. Other blood tests that may be performed include tests for viral hepatitis, fasting blood glucose and HbA1C to check blood glucose levels, and lipid profile tests to check triglycerides and cholesterol levels. 
  • Imaging tests: Imaging tests such as ultrasounds, CT scans, and MRI scans of the liver can show a detailed picture of the liver to determine the excessive accumulation of fat in it. 
  • Liver biopsy: In this test, a doctor removes a sample of tissue from the liver and sends it to a laboratory to see if you have liver inflammation or damage. Your doctor may recommend a liver biopsy only if they suspect that you are at risk of NASH or liver damage, such as liver cirrhosis. 

( Know more about- What are Liver Function tests? )

What are the treatments for Liver Diseases?

Fatty liver has no specific medications for its treatment, and hence lifestyle management is the most important for reversing fatty liver:

  • Weight loss can help reduce fat, inflammation, and scarring in the liver.
  • Regular exercise for about 30 minutes every day can help reduce overall body fat, including fat accumulated in the liver.

( Know more about- What is Metadoxine? Uses and benefits )

  • Reduction in alcohol consumption will prevent liver damage from getting worse and can even undo some of the liver damage that has already taken place. Joining rehabilitation centers or support groups can help in dealing with alcoholism and withdrawal symptoms.
  • Taking medications for diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and other conditions can help treat fatty liver. 

There are many renowned hospitals and doctors in India where liver transplant surgery is done with great success and expertise.

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Cost of Liver Transplant Surgery in Chennai

 

Best Liver and Hepato-biliary Surgeon in Mumbai

Best Liver and Hepato-biliary Surgeon in Bangalore

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What are the complications of Liver Diseases?

The complications of fatty liver disease include:

  • Liver cirrhosis (scarring and hardening of the liver that occurs in response to liver injury, such as the inflammation in NASH, and as the liver tries to reduce inflammation)

( Know more about- What is Liver Cirrhosis? )

  • Liver failure

( Know more about- What is Acute Liver Failure? )

  • Ascites (fluid buildup in the abdomen)
  • Esophageal varices (swollen veins in the esophagus or food pipe that can burst and bleed)
  • Confusion and drowsiness (hepatic encephalopathy)
  • Liver cancer 

( Know more about- What is liver cancer? )

How to prevent Liver Diseases?

Liver diseases can be prevented by making the following lifestyle changes:

  • Alcohol consumption should be in moderation
  • Use condoms during sex
  • Get body piercings and tattooing done from a clean place and using sterile needles
  • Avoid the use of illicit drugs and using shared needles to inject the drugs
  • Get vaccinated for hepatitis
  • Take your medications in the doses recommended by the doctor
  • Do not mix medications and alcohol
  • Talk to the doctor before you take any herbal supplements
  • Avoid contact with another person’s blood and other body fluids
  • Wash hands before and after preparing and eating food
  • Avoid consumption of contaminated food or water
  • Maintain a healthy weight
  • Exercise regularly
  • Avoid exposure to toxic chemicals
  • Limit the consumption of red meat
  • Avoid eating processed food with high sugar content

( Know more about- What is a Condom? )

We hope that we could answer all your questions regarding liver diseases through this article.

If you want to get more information and treatment about liver diseases, you can contact a good Hepatologist.

We only aim to give you information through the article. We do not recommend medication, treatment in any way. Only a doctor can give you the best advice and correct treatment plan. 

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