Everything I need to Know about Liver Disease
Your liver is an important organ, but liver disease can interfere with its ability to perform its many vital functions. In this blog, the doctors at Park Avenue Medical Professionals in NYC explain what you need to know about this disease:
What is liver disease?
Liver disease – also known as hepatic disease – occurs when the liver fails to perform as it should because of a disturbance in its function. This organ has many important jobs, so when it becomes diseased or injured, your entire body can be damaged. The following are just a few of the liver’s functions:
- Producing bile, which is necessary for digesting food, especially fats
- Storing extra glucose as glycogen and converting it back into glucose when the body needs it
- Producing amino acids
- Producing and storing iron
- Making proteins that help with blood clotting
What are its causes?
It can be caused by the following:
- Parasites and viruses
- Autoimmune diseases
- An abnormal gene
- Cancer and other abnormal growths
- Chronic alcohol abuse
- Fat that accumulates in the liver
What are some common types of the disease?
The following are some of the most common types:
- Hepatitis: inflammation of the liver, which can be caused by viruses, heavy drinking, drugs, obesity, or allergic reactions
- Cirrhosis: scarring of the liver due to long-term damage
- Liver cancer: the most common type usually occurs after cirrhosis has been present
What are its symptoms?
Symptoms can include one or more of the following, with more serious symptoms often being associated with more advanced disease:
- Yellowing of the skin and eyes (jaundice)
- Bleeding or bruising easily
- Swelling of the legs and ankles
- Itchy skin
- Dark-colored urine
- Pale, bloody, or tar-colored stools
- Nausea or vomiting
- Loss of appetite
- Swollen abdomen
- Mental confusion
How is liver disease treated?
Treatments depend on type and extend of your damage, as well as its cause. Some types of liver disease can be treated by losing weight or abstaining from alcohol while doctors continue to monitor your liver function. Medication or surgery can also be used in some cases. In the most extensive cases, a liver transplant may be required.
How can you prevent this disease?
The following practices can help lower your risk of developing this disease:
- Get a hepatitis vaccine or an immunoglobulin shot.
- Drink alcohol only in moderation and avoid it when you’re taking acetaminophen (Tylenol).
- Eat a well-balanced diet.
- Wash your hands thoroughly after using the bathroom or before handling food.
- Avoiding handling blood.
- Don’t share personal items, such as razors or toothbrushes.
- Make sure conditions and equipment are sanitary if you get a piercing or tattoo.
- Don’t share needles with anyone if you use illegal drugs.
If you have any symptoms that could indicate the presence of liver disease, make an appointment today with Park Avenue Medical Professionals in NYC. We have a wide range of specialties, including liver disease diagnosis and treatments. Our doctors can confirm or rule out a diagnosis of liver disease, and if you do have this type of illness, prompt, effective treatment can minimize the damage to this vital organ.