The term liver disease covers a multitude of problems. This is because the liver is one of our most vital organs, and has been described as a factory producing bile for digestion, blood clotting factors and amino acids that help us fight infections, to name just a few. So any interruption to the liver’s normal functions can affect the human body in many ways.
What is Liver Disease
Liver disease is any disturbance to the function of the liver which then causes illness. Because the liver is such a vital organ, the loss of function can have serious consequences for our health. This is why all liver conditions leading to liver damage have to be taken very seriously indeed.
Alcoholic Liver Disease
In many countries, including North America, alcohol abuse is by far the most common cause of liver damage. Even though the liver is able to regenerate itself, each time your liver filters alcohol some of the liver cells die. Although the liver can develop new cells, prolonged alcohol misuse over many years can seriously damage the liver and is the major cause of alcoholic liver disease.
Alcoholic liver disease does not usually cause any symptoms until extensive liver damage has occurred. Liver disease symptoms include:
loss of appetite
yellowing of the eyes and skin known as jaundice
swelling in the ankles and abdomen
confusion or drowsiness
If you suspect any of these liver disease risks apply to you, it’s recommended that you see your doctor and get a liver function test.
Can Alcoholic Liver Disease be treated?
Treatments include cutting out alcohol and making other lifestyle changes. If caught in the early stages, stopping drinking alcohol can be enough to cure alcoholic liver disease. Take this step and your liver disease outlook can look a lot brighter. Alternatively, nutritional therapy can also play a role, and your doctor may prescribe medication. In the most critical of cases a liver transplant may be the desired option.
Non-Alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease
Not all liver disease is alcohol related though. Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) is the term used to cover a wide range of conditions caused by a build-up of fat within the liver cells. The majority of NAFLD cases do not develop into serious liver problems, and people with NAFLD can tackle it themselves by reducing their weight by dieting and exercising more.
All liver infections should be taken seriously. So at the first sign of any liver disease symptoms get yourself checked out. Whatever the outcome, it’s generally a case of the sooner the better.
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