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Liver Diseases

Any disturbance to the operations of the liver can cause liver disease. Loss of liver function can cause suspension of many critical works leading to significant damage within the body. Liver diseases or hepatic diseases cover many potential problems that result in liver failure.

Anatomy The largest solid organ in the body is the liver. Also known as a gland, it is responsible for bile secretion. Located in the upper right quadrant it is protected by the rib cage. The liver is responsible for bile secretion, removal of toxic byproducts, preventing nutrient shortages by storing vitamins, breaking down nutrients from food to convert them into energy, producing substances to regulate clotting of blood and removal of bacteria from the blood to fight infection. Being the only organ in the body that can replace its damaged cells, acute liver failure may cause irreversible destruction of cells.

Types of liver diseases

There are over 100 types of liver diseases. Some of the major ones are listed below:

  • Cirrhosis Predominantly an advanced-stage liver disease, cirrhosis causes scarring of liver and damage to liver cells.

  • Alcohol abuse and the liver One of the most common causes of liver damage, alcohol induces fat accumulation in cells of the liver, causing inflammation. This affects the ability of the liver to function – a condition known as alcoholic hepatitis.

  • Hepatitis Hepatitis means inflammation of the liver. The cells of the liver are inflamed due to infection. Hepatitis A spreads through the fecal-oral route, while Hepatitis B and Hepatitis C spread due to exposure to contaminated body fluids.

  • Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease Also known as NASH or non-alcoholic steatohepatitis, this fatty liver develops due to the accumulation of fat in the liver.

  • Drug-induced liver disease Cells of the liver are temporarily or permanently damaged due to drug overdose or even when a drug is ingested as prescribed. Some of them are: Tylenol, Panadol, combination of narcotic-acetominophen, Lortab, Vicodin etc.

  • Hemochromatosis Overload of iron in the body is a metabolic disorder leading to elevated iron levels in the body. This excessive iron accumulates in the liver, heart and pancreas leading to cirrhosis, liver failure and liver cancer.

  • Wilson’s disease It is an inherited disease stunting the body’s ability to metabolize copper.

  • Cancer Liver cancers develop in the liver cells and structure. They are: hepatocellular carcinoma, cholangiocarcinoma and metastatic cancer.

Signs and Symptoms

The following are generic or classic symptoms of liver disease. There are other symptoms that may be associated specifically to a particular liver disorder.

  • RUQ or Right upper quadrant abdominal pain

  • Nausea

  • Vomiting

  • Yellow discolouration of skin due to jaundice caused by excessive bilirubin concentrations

  • Weight loss

  • Weakness

  • fatigue

Diagnosis

Physical findings in a liver disease can affect most of the body systems like lungs, heart, brain etc. The entire body has to be evaluated during physical examination.

Blood Tests include:

  • AST and ALT

  • GGT and alkaline phosphatase

  • Bilirubin

  • Protein and albumin levels

  • CBC or complete blood count

  • INR blood clotting function

  • Lipase

  • Electrolytes, creatinine and BUN

  • Ammonia blood levels

Imaging Studies include:

  • CT scan – a computerized axial tomography
  • MRI
  • Ultrasound
  • Liver biopsy

Treatment and Medication

Treatment and pharmacological regimens are different for each liver disease.

Dr. Deepak and his team of doctors provide expert, controlled regimens after careful examination and analysis of patient conditions. Consult Dr. Deepak at Fortis Malar Hospital, Chennai, India today if you have any suspicion of liver disease.

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