Can You Prevent Liver Disease
Not all liver disease can be preventable, but you can take these steps to reduce your risk:
- Limit or avoid alcohol intake, red meat, trans fat, and high fructose corn syrup.
- Get plenty of exercise.
- Be careful with your medication intake, including over-the-counter medications, such as acetaminophen.
- Use a barrier method during sexual activity, if possible.
Signs And Symptoms Of Malfunctioning Liver
Some of the warning signs and symptoms of malfunctioning liver are as follows:
How Can I Check My Liver Health At Home
Your liver works hard to keep you healthy. When you drink excessive amounts of alcohol, eat an unhealthy diet, do not exercise, or acquire viral infections, the liver can develop its own health problems.
As mentioned, many people are symptom-free or have nonspecific symptoms and do not know they have liver disease. This puts them at risk of serious illness, including liver failure and an increased risk of liver cancer. Thats why its important to be aware of the signs that your liver could be in trouble. You should see your doctor if you notice any of the following problems:
- Fluid retention: This is a common sign in people with liver disease, such as cirrhosis . It can manifest as a distended abdomen or swelling in the legs.
- Jaundice: A dark urine and/or a yellowish tint to the skin and whites of the eyes is a sign of liver disease.
- Gastrointestinal bleeding: Vomiting blood or seeing blood in the stool can be signs of liver disease.
- Mental symptoms: In people with chronic liver disease, the liver cannot filter toxins, which can travel to the brain. This can lead to hepatic encephalopathy which may cause symptoms such as confusion, memory problems, lethargy, even coma.
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Duct And Blockage Problems
Primary sclerosing cholangitis causes scars in the ducts that carry bile from your liver to your intestines. Over time, it can cause serious liver damage. So can the rare Budd-Chiari syndrome, when veins in the liver get blocked off. Gallstones that block bile ducts can cause jaundice and other problems. You’re also more likely to have gallstones when you have liver disease.
What Are The Complications Of Fatty Liver Disease
In many people, fatty liver by itself doesnt cause too many problems. But in some people the fatty liver gets inflamed, causing a more serious condition called non-alcoholic steatohepatitis, or NASH. Ongoing inflammation may scar the liver, which can lead to cirrhosis. This is a serious illness.
A few people who get cirrhosis of the liver develop liver cancer. Some people who develop severe cirrhosis of the liver need to have a liver transplant.
People with fatty liver have an increased risk of heart attack and stroke.
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What Does The Liver Do
The liver is the largest solid organ in your body, weighing in at about 3 pounds. Its a major filter for your body, removing harmful substances or toxins and balancing your metabolism. The liver makes bile, a digestive fluid, and also produces and stores proteins like albumin a critical protein that regulates blood volume and fluid balance in your body.
In addition, your liver also stores and manages:
- proteins that help clotting
- proteins and substances that help with immune function
- fat-soluble vitamins
- extra blood sugar thats transformed into long-term glycogen
Without a properly functioning liver, youll experience problems like the buildup of toxins, uncontrolled bleeding from poor blood clotting, and increased infections.
Liver pain can signal problems in the liver itself or in other parts of the body. Conditions that directly affect the liver and can lead to pain include:
- excessive alcohol consumption
4.5 million Americans live with liver disease. Thats about 2 percent of adults. Hepatitis, nonalcoholic fatty liver disease, and excessive alcohol consumption are the most common causes of liver disease.
Sometimes, liver damage generates pain in other parts of the body. Since the liver has no pain receptors, surrounding tissues and other areas of the body like the neck and shoulders may hurt.
Fitz Hugh Curtis syndrome is one example of a complicated disease that can affect the liver and cause generalized abdominal pain.
How Do You Check Yourself For An Enlarged Liver
Place your right hand on the patient’s abdomen in the right lower quadrant. Gently move up to the right upper quadrant lateral to the rectus muscle. Gently pressing in and up, ask the patient to take a deep breath. If the liver is enlarged, it will come downward to meet your fingertips and will be recognizable.
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What Could Possibly Go Wrong
Your liver health may not be top of mind, but the minute it malfunctionedthere wouldnt be much else on your mind.Cirrhosis, in which liver cells are replaced with scar tissue, can prevent yourliver from doing its critical jobs. So cannonalcoholic fatty liver disease, a fast-growing epidemic among the obese, which can lead to cirrhosis. Ifyour liver stopped working, says Dr. Alqahtani, toxins would accumulate,you couldnt digest your food and medications would never leave your body.
In fact you cant live a week without your liver.
So heres a list of ways to avoid liver disease. Some of them are healthybehaviors you might do anyway. Others may never have occurred to you. Heedthese tips to stay right with your liver.
What Is The Liver
The liver is an organ that sits in the upper part of your stomach and is essential for your health. It plays a role in over 500 functions in your body. These include:
- creating bile acids helps you digest food
- breaking down and storing nutrients
- detoxifying your blood
- helping your blood to clot
- maintaining hormone balances
- regulating blood sugar levels
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Functions Of A Human Liver
The liver has hundreds of functions. It makes multiple chemicals that are required by the body for it function normally. Our liver helps to break down and detoxify harmful substances in our body. It also works like a storage unit. Hepatocytes, or the cells which composes the liver, are responsible for making the many proteins by the process of protein synthesis inside the body. This is very important for many functions including blood clotting factors, and the albumin, which is required to the fluid in the circulation system. The liver is also in charge of manufacturing cholesterol and the triglycerides. It is also responsible for the production of carbohydrates and it helps to convert glucose into glycogen that may be stored both in the liver and in the muscle cells. Bile, secreted by the liver, helps to break down fats, which prepares them to be further digested or to be absorbed by the body.
How Much Alcohol Can Cause Liver Damage
Studies indicate that the effects of alcohol intake depend on individual factors such as weight, size, genetics, gender, and underlying health conditions.5
In contrast to men, women absorb more alcohol from each drink, putting them at higher risk of liver disease. The liver may be harmed by drinking two to three alcoholic beverages daily.
Furthermore, binge drinking, or consuming four or five drinks in one session, may harm the liver. Those who consume 40 grams of alcohol daily risk developing liver cirrhosis.
Alcoholic hepatitis affects those who have been drinking excessively for several years. On the other hand, cirrhosis patients often have a history of excessive drinking that spans more than ten years.
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Take Care Of Your Health
Get checkups regularly so your doctor can keep an eye on how you’re doing with exams and tests. Follow the recommended treatment for conditions such as high blood pressure and diabetes that can make liver problems worse. Check with your doctor about shots like hepatitis vaccines to protect your liver from damage.
Signs Your Liver May Be Damaged
by myDr | Gastrointestinal Health
Your liver is a key part of your digestive system, responsible for cleaning out toxins from your blood, processing medicines, producing bile, helping you digest fat, storing glucose and producing proteins for clotting your blood, among many other things.
Its also a fairly forgiving organ, able to regenerate cells up to a point, but repeated damage to the liver leads to inflammation, scarring and cirrhosis. This causes it to shrink and harden, and changes the structure of the liver, preventing it from functioning well. A high intake of alcohol or toxins, a diet high in fat, and some viral infections, such as hepatitis, can cause damage to the liver.
Liver disease doesnt usually cause any symptoms until the damage to the liver is fairly advanced.
Some signs your liver may be struggling are:
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Symptoms That Spell Liver Disease
Abdominal pain: Soreness and achiness in the upper right quadrant of your abdomen. Because the larger portion of your liver is on the right side, if there is damage or illness you may experience pain in this area.
Jaundice: Jaundice is a condition in which the skin or the eyes appear yellow in color. This yellow color is a result of excess bilirubin which is not being disposed of properly by the liver.
Aching joints: Joint pain accompanied by nausea, fatigue, loss of appetite, and vomiting can be symptoms of autoimmune hepatitis, a liver disease in which the body mistakenly attacks itself in this case, the cells of the liver.
Skin spots: A liver problem can lead to a blood clotting problem, which causes spots to appear on the skin. The large skin blemishes may appear like spiders and are most commonly found on the chest or torso.Confusion: A sick liver can result in excess copper in the blood and brain which can lead to Alzheimer-like confusion. This is a very advanced symptom, meaning if you are experiencing confusion due to a sick liver, your condition is already well advanced.
Muscle wasting: Weak arms and legs while the torso appears larger and swollen are a sign of muscle wasting which can result from a diseased liver. Once again, this too is a sign of advanced liver disease and is unlikely to be experienced in its early stages.
Being mindful of a liver health problem can help you detect any liver problems early on before they worsen.
What Treatments Are Available For Liver Failure
Patients with acute-on-chronic liver failure may see their livers fail over weeks to months, compared to months to years as is typical in chronic liver failure.
As with acute liver failure, we focus first on treating the underlying cause of sudden liver failure before considering a possible liver transplant.
In many cases, the only treatment for liver failure is a liver transplant. However, liver failure is sometimes brought on by an acute or hereditary cause that can be treated. For instance, when liver failure is caused by ingesting too much acetaminophen , we will use medicine to counteract the effects of this common drug to reduce liver damage. When liver failure results from a hereditary copper-overload disease, we will use medications to remove the copper out of the body. Or when liver failure is precipitated by an infection in patients with cirrhosis, we will use antibacterial medicines to fight the infection to, hopefully, return the liver to its previous functional state.
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Or You Unexpectedly Lose Weight
While suddenly gaining weight can be one of the signs of liver damage, losing weight can be a symptom, too. Seeing the number drop on the scale isn’t just a sign of liver cirrhosisaccording to the Mayo Clinic, it’s also a red flag for hepatitis C, a viral infection that leads to the inflammation of the liver.
What Is The Difference Between Acute And Chronic Liver Failure
Liver failure can develop slowly or rapidly, depending on the cause and the condition of the liver.
Chronic liver failure: The most common type of liver failure is chronic, which can take months or years to develop. Chronic liver failure is a slow decline in liver function that occurs alongside cirrhosis, or severe scarring of the liver. Cirrhosis may be caused by excess alcohol intake, hepatitis, nonalcoholic fatty liver disease, bile duct diseases and various hereditary conditions.
At UChicago Medicine, our liver disease team helps hundreds of patients a year with cirrhosis. We focus on controlling or slowing the progression of cirrhosis with lifestyle changes, medicines and other treatments.
Over time, however, cirrhosis can slowly lead to a decline in liver function and, ultimately, liver failure. We perform periodic testing to monitor the health of your liver so we will know if and when your liver begins to fail. Once cirrhosis progresses to liver failure, the definitive treatment is a liver transplant.
Acute liver failure: When liver failure develops rapidly, typically over days to a few weeks, it is known as acute liver failure. This form of liver failure is rare and often happens in people who have never had previous liver problems. Causes of acute liver failure include:
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Whats Included In A Liver Blood Test
The main proteins measured in a liver blood test are:
- albumin helps transport nutrients and hormones, as well as helps grow and repair tissues in your body
- globulin helps your blood clot and fights infections
- total protein this is your albumin and globulin levels combined
The main enzymes measured in a liver blood test are:
- alkaline phosphatase helps break down proteins so your body can absorb them
- alanine transferase also helps break down proteins
- gamma-glutamyl transpeptidase helps detoxify drugs and alcohol
Bilirubin is a yellow pigment. When your red blood cells break down, bilirubin is whats leftover. Its a waste product with no known function in your body.
Your Eyes Or Mouth Are Dry
There are plenty of different reasons behind experiencing dry eyes or a dry mouthfrom your age to the medications you’re takingbut one possible culprit is a lot more serious. Primary biliary cholangitis is known to cause the problem, the Mayo Clinic says, but luckily it’s an early symptom of the chronic disease.
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You Experience Sudden Weight Gain
If you’re suddenly gaining weight out of nowhere, your liver might be to blame. According to the Cleveland Clinic, it could be a sign you have liver cirrhosis, a disease that develops slowly and replaces healthy liver tissue with scar tissue, blocking blood flow through the liver and inhibiting the organ from working properly.
Your Breasts Become Enlarged
One of the most shocking warning signs of nonalcoholic fatty liver disease is experiencing enlarged breasts if you’re a man. It’s a very mind-boggling occurrence, but there’s an explanation. It’s thought that the growth of excess breast tissueaka gynecomastiaoccurs due to an imbalance of the hormones estrogen and testosterone.
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Is My Liver Ok
The only way to know if your liver is working well is to be checked out by a healthcare professional. Your doctor will evaluate you based on your symptoms and physical examination. They will provide medical advice as to further testing, which may include liver function tests.
Your healthcare provider may advise you to get regular checks of your liver function if you are a heavy drinker, you have diabetes, you are overweight or obese, have high triglyceride levels, or have high blood pressure.
If the liver function tests are abnormal or out of range, your doctor may order further tests such as an ultrasound scan or biopsy to check for liver damage.