Liver Image

liver-illustrated_640What is Liver Disease?

The liver is an organ about the size of a football. It sits just under your rib cage on the right side of your abdomen. The liver is essential for digesting food and ridding your body of toxic substances. Liver disease can be inherited (genetic). Liver problems can also be caused by a variety of factors that damage the liver, such as viruses, alcohol use and obesity.

Liver damage typically has four stages. Liver disease refers to any condition that inflames or damages your liver. Damage to your liver can accumulate through several stages of liver disease. Each stage has a cumulative effect on your liver’s ability to function properly.

The Four Stages of Liver Damage or Disease

  • inflammation
  • fibrosis
  • cirrhosis
  • end-stage liver disease (ESLD)

Stages of liver damage or disease –  Damage from liver disease can accrue throughout several stages. With each stage, your liver’s ability to function is increasingly affected.

Stage 1 – Inflammation

In this early stage, your liver becomes enlarged or inflamed. Many people with liver inflammation don’t experience symptoms. If the inflammation continues, permanent liver damage can occur.

Stage 2 – Fibrosis

Fibrosis happens when an inflamed liver begins to develop scars. The scar tissue that’s generated in this stage takes the place of healthy liver tissue, but it can’t perform the same functions. This can start to affect your liver’s ability to function optimally. Liver fibrosis can be hard to detect because symptoms aren’t often present.

Stage 3 – Cirrhosis

In cirrhosis, severe liver scarring has occurred, leading to a buildup of scar tissue. Because there isn’t as much healthy liver tissue, it becomes very difficult for your liver to function properly. While symptoms may not have been present in earlier stages, you may begin to experience symptoms of liver disease.

End-Stage Liver Disease (ESLD)

ESLD is an umbrella term that can be used to describe conditions such as:

At this stage, liver function has deteriorated dramatically. ESLD is associated with complications such as ascites (a type of abdominal swelling) and hepatic encephalopathy (reduced brain function).

 Causes of Liver Damage and Failure

liver_640 Causes of liver damage and failure include:

 Symptoms of Liver Damage and Failure

 Inflammation and fibrosis, the earliest stages of liver damage or disease, rarely cause noticeable symptoms. Symptoms are associated with more advanced stages.

Symptoms of Cirrhosis – Early on, cirrhosis may cause symptoms such as:

Symptoms of ESLD – The symptoms of ESLD can include:

Diagnosis of Liver Issues

To diagnose liver issues, a doctor will start by taking your medical history and performing a physical examination. Afterward, they may perform a variety of additional tests, including:

  • Liver function tests: Liver function tests assess the levels of various proteins and enzymes in your blood. These proteins and enzymes can indicate how well your liver functions.
  • Other blood tests: The doctor may also perform a complete blood count or test for conditions that can cause liver damage, such as viral hepatitis or genetic conditions.
  • Imaging tests: Imaging technology such as an ultrasound, a CT scan, or an MRI can help the doctor visualize your liver.
  • Biopsy: Taking a tissue sample from your liver can help the doctor see if scar tissue is present. The sample can also help them identify what may be causing your condition. Learn more about liver biopsy.

 Tips for a Healthy Liver

You can help prevent liver damage, disease, and failure by making lifestyle changes that keep your liver happy and healthy. Here are some tips for improving liver health:

  • Drink alcohol in moderation, and never mix medications with alcohol.
  • Take medications only when needed, and carefully follow any dosing instructions.
  • Consult a doctor before mixing medications.
  • Maintain a moderate weight. There’s a connection between obesity and fatty liver disease.
  • Get vaccinated against hepatitis A and hepatitis B.
  • Have regular physicals during which your doctor performs liver function tests.

Many foods contain specific compounds or antioxidants that have been shown to support liver function. A few examples include grapefruit, blueberries, cranberries, fatty fish, olive oil, and cruciferous vegetables like broccoli, brussels sprouts, or cauliflower.

Disclaimer As always, the above article is only for education, always check with your physician. My Disclaimer Here.

Stay well.

~Minu v

Notes:  Some images provided by Mayo Clinic and information provided by HealthLine.com

Similar Posts