Liver is the second largest organ (after the skin) of the human body. It is located on the right side, close to your ribs. It produces bile, a chemical that transports toxins from the body and assists in digestion.
Liver is a critical organ that conducts hundreds of metabolic activities, plays part in energy storage, and waste filtering functions. It aids in the digestion of food, the conversion of food to energy, and the storage of energy until needed. It also helps in the removal of toxins from our bloodstream.
What is Liver Disease?
Liver disease is a general term for any condition affecting the liver. These disorders can occur for various causes, but they can all harm the liver, impairing its function. Therefore, in simpler terms any disorders that affect and destroy the liver are referred to as "liver disease.
What are the symptoms of liver disease?
In an exclusive with OnlyMyHealth editorial team, Dr Naveen Kumar, Sr Consultant, Hepatology and Gastroenterology, Dharamshila Narayana Superspeciality Hospital, Delhi, elucidates that some kinds of liver disease (including nonalcoholic fatty liver disease) frequently cause symptoms. The most prevalent symptom of other illnesses is jaundice, a yellowing of your skin and the whites of your eyes. Jaundice occurs when your liver cannot eliminate a chemical known as bilirubin. A few other symptoms of liver diseases are:
- Abdominal (belly) pain is another indicator of liver illness (especially on the right side)
- Vulnerable to bruising
- Colour changes in your urine or faeces
- Vomiting or nausea
- Swelling of the arms or legs (edema)
How can liver disease be diagnosed?
Dr. Kumar said, "The consulting doctor will recommend one or more tests to accurately diagnose and determine the cause of liver illness." These tests generally include:
1. Blood tests
Liver enzymes are used to determine the amount of liver enzymes in your blood. Another test for liver function is the international normalised ratio (INR), which measures blood coagulation . Abnormal levels may indicate liver function issues.
2. Imaging tests
Doctors may use ultrasound, MRI, or CT scan to look for symptoms of liver damage, scarring, or tumours. The degree of scarring and fat buildup in the liver can be determined using a particular type of ultrasonography called fibroscan.
3. Liver biopsy
Health providers will use a fine needle to extract a small sample of liver tissue during a liver biopsy.
A new technique to evaluate liver health is now frequently used and many times helps to avoid liver biopsy.
How can liver disease be treated?
If left untreated, liver disorders can lead to worsening liver function and irreparable damage. Non-surgical treatment may not be able to reverse the underlying liver disease, but it may provide pain relief and minimise discomfort.
To regulate your cholesterol levels, your doctor may advise you to make lifestyle and dietary adjustments. You may be asked to limit your alcohol intake and maintain a healthy weight. You should also reduce your intake of fat and sugar and switch to a fibre-rich diet.
Depending on the severity of your problem, a doctor may recommend one or more of the following medications.
- Anti-inflammatory medication/drugs that reduce inflammation
- Hepatitis medicines/drugs that fight hepatitis viruses
- Medication to alleviate liver inflammation
- Blood pressure medication or sugar medication to control underlying disease
- Vitamin and mineral supplements
In nuances of an advanced liver disease, your healthcare provider may advise surgery like liver transplantation.