About 4.9 million people in America are diagnosed with liver disease. According to statistics, over 40,000 people die from liver disease each year. Most of these cases could have been prevented by treating chronic alcoholism, as confirmed by Johns Hopkins Medicine. In this article we will given you some important information about liver health and a few practical ways to protect it.
Liver disease or cirrhosis develops as a result of the scarring of the tissue. This results in permanent damage because scar tissue keeps building up, and the liver cannot work properly. The scar tissue takes a large part of the healthy tissue, and blocks the flow of blood in the liver. If not treated on time, this may lead to liver failure.
Experts at the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases confirmed that the following groups are more likely to develop liver disease:
- Individuals with type 2 diabetes
- Individuals aged 50 or more
Complications of cirrhosis
Unfortunately, some people are not even aware of the fact that they have liver disease until their condition gets complicated. Here are some of the complications:
Portal hypertension is the most serious complication of liver disease. It happens when scar tissue builds up and affects the flow of blood in the liver, increasing the blood pressure in the portal vein. Portal hypertension is accompanied by the following symptoms:
- Enlarged veins or varices in the esophagus, stomach and intestines. These veins can burst, and cause internal bleeding.
- Swelling or edema in the legs, ankles, and feet.
- Fluid buildup in the abdomen (ascites) which causes infection in the area around the liver and intestines.
- Confusion and cognitive impairment triggered by toxin buildup in the brain. It is also called hepatic encephalopathy.
Liver disease increases the risk of developing bacterial infections such as pneumonia and urinary tract infection.
Cirrhosis sometimes triggers the development of liver cancer. Most patients diagnosed with liver cancer already deal with liver disease.
In some cases, cirrhosis causes liver failure. In other words, the liver is badly damage and stops doing its normal function. Patients are then required a liver transplant.
- Bone disease (i.e. osteoporosis)
- Issues with bile ducts (these carry bile out of the liver)
- Malabsorption and malnutrition
- Easy bruising
- Sensitivity to medicine
- Insulin resistance and type 2 diabetes
Common facts of liver disease
The American Liver Foundation recognizes several types of liver disease. Let’s go through some of the all-encompassing facts about cirrhosis.
- Obesity is the leading cause of cirrhosis in the US. Alcohol and drug abuse can also trigger the development of liver disease, but obesity only makes it worse. Liver disease is sometimes a matter of genes.
- Healthy liver can regenerate itself after being damaged. Liver disease is caused by scar buildups that block the flow of blood through the liver, stopping its regeneration ability.
- In the early stage of the disease, patients deal with inflammation. It is not a bad condition, and helps fighting off infections and healing injuries. If the inflammation is chronic, it leads to a permanent damage.
- Liver failure happens when the liver does not function properly and shuts down. This is a rather serious condition, and sufferers have to seek medical help. Some of the early symptoms include nausea, fatigue, diarrhea, loss of appetite. These symptoms are common for many ailments, and sufferers are not even aware of their problem. Do regular checkups and take care of your health.
The liver processes nutrients absorbed from the small intestine. It secrets bile to support the digestive system. Your liver has all the chemicals you need to function. The liver takes the raw material absorbed by the small intestine and turns it into chemicals you need. Your liver has an essential role in the body as it detoxifies the system of toxins.