What are the Signs and Symptoms of Liver Diseases?
The liver, being the largest organ inside the human body, helps in the regulation of important functions of the body. It helps in the digestion of food. It turns the chemicals into various nutrients required by our body. It turns food into energy and stores it. It detoxifies the toxins and helps in the production of proteins inside our bodies. It removes poisons from our bodies. Today, 20 – 25% of the population of our country is suffering from liver diseases. It’s not necessary that if a person is suffering from liver problems, needs to undergo liver transplantation. When the liver gets severely damaged then it needs to be transplanted.
Lifestyle: The main cause of liver damage is the lifestyle, where people gain more weight and there is too much deposition of fats in the liver. The fats cause inflammation in the liver which further forms into scar tissue, which is termed cirrhosis.
Causes: If alcohol consumption is beyond the limit, the chances of developing liver problems are high. Every individual has a unique framework. The effect of alcohol consumption depends on the immunity of the person’s body. If a person has a strong immune system, his liver may not be affected severely, but if a person has a bad immune system, a little consumption of alcohol can be harmful to him.
When the eyes get yellowish, it means that the liver is severely damaged and the bile juice, produced by the liver, accumulates inside the bossy instead of getting excreted. Due to the structural damage in the liver, pressure develops inside the body due to which the stomach gets filled up with fluids. This leads to the loss of mental stability or excess sleepiness, known as hepatic encephalopathy.
There are different factors leading to liver diseases. They are categorized under the following criteria:-
INFECTIONS: Some infections lead to inflammation in the liver. These lead to viral hepatitis including:-
Hepatitis-A: When people eat or drink something that is tainted by fecal matter, there may be a chance that they will suffer from Hepatitis-A. Any symptoms may not be seen. But it can be cured in a duration of six months without causing any sort of long-term harm.
The symptoms include paled stool or dark-colored urine, fever, headache, fatigue, itchy skin, yellow skin and eyes, stomachache, nausea, or poor appetite.
Hepatitis-B: One can acquire this from other people such as through unprotected sex or by using shared needles. If it lasts longer than six months, the chances are high that one can develop liver cancer or other diseases.
The symptoms include dark-colored urine, fatigue, fever, nausea or poor appetite, sore muscle joints, pain beneath the right side of the rib cage.
Hepatitis-C: It is mainly developed from the infected blood that gets into a person’s blood. One might acquire it by consuming drugs with shared needles or things that are in connection with HIV. Any healthcare worker needs to be extra careful as he might get it from an infected needle that accidentally sticks him. The symptoms may not be figured out for many years. The persons born between 1946 and 1964 are at high risk for Hepatitis C and should go for a test for it.
The symptoms mainly include the appearance of thin blood vessels under the skin, dark-colored urine, easy bruising and bleeding, itchy skin, fatigue, poor appetite or weight loss, swollen legs, and abdomen.
Problems Linked With The Immune System
The immune system functions as a shield for our body and fights against bacteria, viruses, and foreign bodies. But, when the immune system develops malfunctioning, it might attack one or more parts of the body, such as the liver.
Autoimmune Hepatitis: It results in inflammation in the liver. It leads to the origination of other disorders and liver failure too. Girls and women are more at risk of acquiring this liver problem than boys or men.
Primary biliary cholangitis: In this liver problem, the bile ducts, i.e, tiny tubes in the liver are attacked. The bile ducts carry a chemical called bile, which is helpful for the digestion of food. The bile gets deposited inside the liver when these ducts get injured and, as a result, the liver gets scarred. Women are more at risk of suffering from this than men.
Primary sclerosing cholangitis: The bile ducts get scarred, and can even get blocked. The bile gets deposited inside the liver making it harder for the liver to function. There are high chances of liver cancer and the patient might need to undergo a transplant. Men are at more risk of suffering from this than women.
Tumors And Cancers
If cancer is developed in the liver, the chances are high that it’s been spread from another part of the body, like the lungs, breasts, or colon. But few come about in the liver itself.
Liver Cancer: Women get more affected by this than men. It may be termed hepatocellular carcinoma. There are high chances of getting it if someone has Hepatitis or drinks too much.
Bile Duct Cancer: It targets the tubes running from the liver to the small intestine carrying bile, a fluid that helps you digest food. It is very uncommon and affects people over the age of 50.
Liver cell adenoma: It is a tumor that doesn’t have cancer. It’s very rare. Women who consume birth control pills for a long time are at more risk than other people who suffer. The chances are very bleak that the tumor turns into cancer.
Liver Problems that are Inherited
There are some diseases that are more prone to inherit from the family.
Hemochromatosis: It leads to the storage of heavy metals such as iron from the food into the liver. The excess deposition of iron in the liver, heart or other organs can lead to life risks such as liver disorders, heart diseases, and diabetes.
Hyperoxaluria: It is developed when a person’s urine contains too much oxalate. This risks the chances of developing stones in the kidney and might lead to kidney failure. In the case of kidney failure, the oxalate collects in other organs, which is termed oxalosis and can cause severe problems.
Wilson’s disease: It leads to the storage of copper from the food into the liver or other organs. The symptoms may be seen between the age of 6 to 35, mostly during the teenage years. Besides affecting the liver, it can lead to nerves and psychiatric problems.
The symptoms include easy bruising, fatigue, poor appetite, speech and swallowing difficulties, swollen legs, and abdomen.
Gilbert’s Syndrome: It is not as harmful as the other inherited diseases. It resists the liver to process bilirubin, a substance formed when the red blood cells break down. It usually doesn’t lead to any complications and any treatment may not be required.
Alpha-1 antitrypsin deficiency: When the chemical that helps in resisting infection functions wrongly, it leads to liver diseases.
Drug Overdose: Consuming too much acetaminophen or other drugs can affect the liver severely. One should make sure that he follows the dosing instructions that have been labeled, and should be well aware that acetaminophen might be in more than one medicine that is to be taken.
Nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD): When too many fats build up inside the liver, it leads to NAFLD. The extra fats can cause inflammation in the liver. One of its types is nonalcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH). It results in the damage of the liver cells, including fats. It has a high chance of producing scars in the liver and can lead to disorders, like cirrhosis.
A person is more likely to develop this if the person is insulin-resistant, obese, and has certain health conditions like high blood sugar, or too many fats in the body.
Until the liver gets severely damaged, no one can predict that he/she has developed liver problems. In order to avoid that one needs to go for a regular checkup, monitor the weight loss and gain. The tests include basic liver function tests and ultrasound. One should not ignore if any of the symptoms show up. They should go for an immediate checkup to avoid any casualties that may happen if ignored.
There are many healthcare advisors across the country. Visit the Alfa Gastro & Liver Care Hospital, If anyone wants to consult a liver specialist (Gastroenterologist).