The liver is an important organ that needs to perform hundreds of tasks related to metabolism, energy storage, and waste detoxification. It helps you digest food, convert it to energy, and store your energy until you need it. It also helps to filter toxic substances out of your bloodstream.
Liver disease is a term that refers to any condition that affects your liver. These conditions may develop for a variety of reasons, but they can all damage your liver and affect its function. Liver disease is any disorder of the function of the liver that causes illness. The liver is responsible for many critical functions within the body and, in the event of illness or injury, the loss of these functions can cause significant damage to the body. Liver disease is a broad term that encompasses all potential problems which cause the liver to fail to perform its intended function. Generally more than 75% or three-quarters of the liver tissue needs to be affected before a decrease in function occurs.
Causes of Liver Damage
Many diseases and disorders may affect the liver, such as certain drugs such as excessive amounts of acetaminophen and acetaminophen combination drugs such as Vicodin and Norco, as well as statins, cirrhosis, alcohol abuse, hepatitis A, B, C, D, and E, infectious mononucleosis (Epstein Barr virus), non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NASH) and iron overload (hemochromatosis).Some of the common causes of liver damage are:
- Autoimmune disease
- Excessive use of alcohol
- Poor diet
- Reactions to other medications
Symptom of Liver Damage
Liver damage not always shows noticeable signs and symptoms. If signs and symptoms of liver disease occur, they may include:
- Skin and eyes that appear yellowish (jaundice)
- Abdominal pain and swelling
- Swelling in the legs and ankles
- Itchy skin
- Dark urine color
- Pale stool color
- Chronic fatigue
- Nausea or vomiting
- Loss of appetite
- Tendency to bruise easily
- Extreme tiredness
Early Diagnosis Of Liver Disease
Early diagnosis may prevent damage to the liver from occurring. If you are diagnosed with scar tissue that has already formed, the liver can repair and even regenerate itself. As a result, liver disease damage can often be reversed with a well-managed treatment plan.
Many people with liver problems do not look or feel sick even though their liver is damaged. At some point in the development of the liver disease, damage might become irreversible and lead to liver failure, liver cancer, or death.
If you’re concerned that you may have liver problems, it’s better to make an appointment with your doctor to narrow down what causes your symptoms.
They’ll start looking through your medical records and asking about any family history of liver problems. Next, they’re likely to ask a few questions about the symptoms, including when they started, and whether some things make them better or worse.Further, the doctor might recommend you for:
- Liver function tests
- Test of the complete blood count
- CT scans, MRIs, or ultrasounds to check for liver or tumor damage
- Liver biopsy, that involves removing a small sample of your liver and examining it for signs of injury or illness.
Risk Factors of Liver Damage
- Heavy alcohol use
- Type 2 diabetes
- Tattoos or body piercings
- Injecting drugs using shared needles
- Exposure to other people’s blood and body fluids
- Unprotected sex
- Exposure to certain chemicals or toxins
- Family history of liver disease
How are Liver Damage Treated?
Liver Damages are chronic as they last for many years and can never go away. However, Chronic Liver Diseases can be managed. To some extent the lifestyle changes can help in the treatment of Liver Damage naturally:
- Decreasing the consumption of Alcohol
- Maintaining a healthy weight
- Drinking enough amount of Water
- Try to adapt a Liver-friendly diet that includes plenty of fiber which will reduce fat, sugar and salt.
Depending on the severity of the liver damage the doctor would recommend your dietary change according to it. Some of the medical treatments the doctor may recommend you:
- Antiviral medicines to treat hepatitis
- Steroids to reduce inflammation of the liver
- Medication for blood pressure
- Antibiotic drugs
- Drugs to target specific symptoms, such as itchy skin
- Vitamins and supplements to improve liver health
Complications of Liver Damage
Cerebral edema- Fluid buildup is a liver failure problem. In addition to your stomach, it can also pool in your brain and lead to high blood pressure.
Problems with blood clotting- The liver has a major role to play in helping your blood clot. If you can’t do that job, you’re at risk of bleeding too freely.
Infections such as pneumonia and UTIs- End-stage liver disease may make you more likely to develop infections.
Failure of the Kidney- Liver failure may change the way your kidneys work and lead to failure.
Prevention for Liver Damage
- Get hepatitis or immunoglobulin vaccine to prevent hepatitis A and B.
- Eat a proper diet.
- Maintain a proper weight, don’t be over-weighted.
- Don’t drink any excess alcohol. Avoid alcohol when you are taking acetaminophen.
- Practice good hygiene. Wash your hands properly before you touch your foods.
- If you have a tattoo or body piercing, make sure the conditions are sanitary and all the equipment is aseptic (free of disease-causing germs).
- Do not share needles with anyone if you use illegal intravenous drugs.
When to Visit a Doctor?
The emergence of liver damage is gradual and there is no specific symptom that causes the affected individual to seek medical attention. Fatigue, weakness and weight loss that cannot be explained should prompt a visit for medical assessment. Jaundice or yellow skin is never normal and should prompt a health professional assessment. As soon as your body shows any of the serious symptoms, talk with your doctor immediately for avoiding any serious consequences.
As the liver is becoming more severely damaged, more obvious and serious symptoms may occur, such as yellowing of the skin and whites of the eyes (jaundice) swelling in the legs, ankles, and legs caused by the build-up of fluid (oedema) in the abdomen caused by the build-up of fluid known as ascites.
- End-stage Liver disease
- Eat a lot of vegetables (broccoli, carrots, and green leafy vegetables especially)
- Eat acidic fruits such as grapefruit, berries, grapes, lemons and oranges.
- Drink some coffee
- Drink some green tea
- Extra added sugar
- Fried foods
- Extra salt
- White bread, rice and pasta
- Red meat