Did you know that your liver is the largest glandular organ in the body? The next revelation will tickle your mind a bit more – the liver performs over 200 of our body’s function. So not just a big piece of the digestive organ, it is multifunctional and one of the most important parts that contribute to our immunity too. But trouble starts when our lifestyle, food habits, etc. causes active liver diseases and drastically deteriorates our entire body health. Want to know how? Here’s how!
How common is liver disease?
Liver diseases are burgeoning in India due to several factors like increasing alcohol consumption, unhealthy lifestyle, unhygienic diet, and many more. In recent years, India is becoming a hub of both benign and acute liver diseases. As per the research of the Liver Foundation, over 600 million people suffer from liver diseases in India – this burden is further triggered by the massive population and economic factor in our country.
It is all the more shocking that nearly 50 types of liver disease are attributing to such high numbers. Unawareness is at the apex of liver disease prevalence, which is why people are continuing with their improper lifestyle and eventually become a victim of active liver disease.
What are the different types of liver diseases?
Infection Triggered Liver Diseases:
Hepatitis is the most common liver disease which results in inflammation. Infection, reaction to certain drugs, alcohol, or toxic material are some of the causative factors of this active liver disease. There are 4 types of hepatitis, namely Hepatitis A, Hepatitis B, Hepatitis C, Hepatitis D, and Hepatitis E.
Patients develop from Hepatitis A and Hepatitis E due to consumption of contaminated water or food. They don’t pose much of a risk to life. Generally, the patient with Hepatitis E recovers in a 2-6 weeks time with the help of medication treatment, whereas people with Hepatitis A can have a more lasting effect. If the patient with Hepatitis A develops more serious symptoms, the recovery phase can extend upto 2-6 months.
Hepatitis B and Hepatitis C are caused due to contact with contaminated blood, semen, or any other bodily fluids. These types of active liver diseases can be life-threatening. Although Hepatitis B doesn’t have a complete cure, it can be treated in the early stages to lower the risk of life. When acute Hepatitis B results in serious complication, patients develop Hepatitis D. It leads to liver impairment, scarring, and also poses a risk of cancer development to the patients. Hepatitis C remains asymptomatic in the early phases, and in the later stages, it already starts to damage the liver slowly.
- Liver Cancer
LIver cancer is classified into two types – primary liver cancer and secondary liver cancer. In primary liver cancer, the cancerous cells develop in the liver itself. People who have cirrhosis or hepatitis are at risk of originating primary liver cancer.
Secondary liver cancer is more common in patients. Research shows that the cancer cells in the tumour with patients suffering from metastatic or secondary liver cancer is not the same as that found in the liver.
Other factors that lead to liver cancer are consumption of toxic chemicals, excess alcohol consumption, and even develops as a result of fatty liver disease or obesity. Liver cancer can be treated in the initial stages with medications, chemotherapy, radiotherapy, or surgical treatment such as liver transplant. In case there is a delay in diagnosis and treatment, the liver cancer worsens, and once patients have advanced cancer, there is a serious risk to life.
- Bile Duct Cancer
The bile duct is a connecting tube between the liver and small intestine and helps in digestive functioning of your body. Also known as cholangiocarcinoma, bile duct cancer is a malignant type and blocks the bile duct, thereby restricting the secretion of bile juice (the important digestive need of your body).
It can be treated with medication and surgical procedures, but if it spreads to the liver, it causes what is known as metastatic cancer or secondary liver cancer.
Genetically Transferred Liver Diseases:
This type of genetic disorder causes excess iron builds up in the body, also known as iron overload. When too much iron is stored in different parts of your body, there is no way it can exit your body causing serious health implications in the long run such as liver cirrhosis, liver failure, and many more. The build-up iron also affects other organs in your body, such as the heart or causes diabetes.
- Wilson’s disease
Similar to hemochromatosis, in Wilson’s disease, excess copper gets stored in the body leading to serious liver defects and malfunctioning. Due to higher absorption of copper by the liver, patients eventually suffer from mild liver problems to acute effects like hepatitis, cirrhosis, and liver failure.
- Liver Cirrhosis
Cirrhosis develops in the liver leading to scarring and over a certain period damages its functioning completely. It occurs in four stages. In the first stage of inflammation, your liver enlarges due to excess reaction to the foreign substances entering your body. As a result, there is an abnormally higher level of toxins released in your body.
In the second stage, there is scarring in the liver, called the fibrosis – it reaches the next level (the third stage), and there is more damage to the liver with noticeable symptoms. The last stage is liver failure. Factors leading to cirrhosis are excessive alcohol intake, hepatitis, excess fat deposition in the liver.
- Liver Failure
It is a type of active liver disease that leads to severe complications and even puts your life at risk, which is why a patient with liver damage requires urgent medical attention. Liver failure is a chronic condition as a result of other liver diseases like cirrhosis and others.
What are the subtle signs of liver disease?
Over time, you can notice the symptoms of liver disease, upon which you need to visit the nearest medical facility to get the necessary treatment. Check for the below symptom of liver disease to avail proper treatment or therapy.
- Yellow or pale skin and eyes – commonly termed as jaundice.
- Swelling accompanied by pain in the abdomen, legs, or ankles.
- Urine discolouration
- Dark-coloured urination
- Diarrhoea and nausea
- Appetite loss and vomiting
Can chronic liver disease be cured?
If you have chronic liver diseases, medical treatment is only provided to subdue the symptoms. However, it is imperative to control the disease or to extend life expectancy in the patients. Over time, chronic liver disease like hepatitis or cirrhosis develops to complete liver failure.
Which doctors treat liver disease?
A gastroenterologist or hepatologist examines and treats liver diseases. Generally, the initial treatment and diagnosis include outpatients and is treated by a gastroenterologist & the Best Liver Doctor in Pune. However, both gastroenterologist and hepatologist or Best Liver Specialist in Pune in treating acute and chronic liver disease,