Your liver plays a crucial role in your body by removing toxins and helping you digest food. When you have a liver disease, it means that an infection, underlying illness, or other problem is affecting this organ’s ability to do its job. This can result in a wide range of symptoms that affect you in different ways. Knowing more about the symptoms of a liver disease and what causes them helps ensure that you seek medical care and get the treatment you need.
Causes of Liver Diseases
Liver diseases can develop for different reasons. Infections – such as Hepatitis A or B – can occur from exposure to contaminated food, water, blood, and other sources. You can also have a liver disease due to abnormal genes or a problem with your immune system. Other causes of liver disease include chronic alcohol use, cancer, and a buildup of fat in the liver. Your risk is higher if you have certain factors, such as alcohol abuse, diabetes, obesity, or exposure to body fluids from someone with a liver disease.
Symptoms of Liver Diseases
How can you tell if you have a problem with your liver? When your liver isn’t functioning properly, you might develop a number of symptoms. Some of these include the following:
- Yellowish eyes or skin, also known as jaundice
- Pain or swelling in your abdomen
- Swollen ankles due to fluid retention
- Chronic exhaustion or fatigue
- Urine that is darker than normal
- Stool that is paler than usual, tar-colored or bloody
- Skin that bruises easily
- Nausea with or without vomiting
- Appetite loss
- Itchy skin
When liver disease is left untreated, it can end up leading to scarring, or cirrhosis. In other cases, liver disease can result in liver failure, which is a life-threatening condition. If you have any signs and symptoms of liver disease, you should seek medical care in order to get a diagnosis and undergo treatment.
Treatments for Liver Disease
The type of treatment you might need for liver disease depends on your diagnosis. You might be able to manage your condition with lifestyle changes, such as maintaining a healthy weight or avoiding alcohol. For some types of liver disease, you might need to take medication or undergo surgery. For example, surgery is sometimes done in cases of cirrhosis. Some patients end up needing a liver transplant if they have liver failure.
Liver Disease Prevention
There are several steps you can take to lower your risk of liver disease. Some of these include the following:
- Limit alcohol use
- Stay up-to-date on vaccines for Hepatitis A and Hepatitis B
- Lose excess weight and keep it off to lower your risk of nonalcoholic fatty liver disease
- Only get tattoos or body piercings from clean, reputable places
If you have symptoms of a liver disease, contact Anthony S. Borcich, MD PC to schedule an appointment. We offer gastroenterology services in Manhattan.