The liver is an important organ, situated just below our ribcage, to the right of the abdomen. It plays an essential part in food digestion and also helps flush out the toxins from our body. The liver generally gets damaged if it is subject to alcoholic abuse, or at times due to some other viruses. Here are a few liver disorders and their causes.
A liver getting scarred over time is what is called as cirrhosis in medical terms. Undiagnosed and untreated cirrhosis can result in complete liver failure and become life threatening. This disease results in loss of live cells in the liver and is irreversible.
Causes: Alcoholism and Hepatitis virus B and C are the major causes.
Cirrhosis results in weakness, jaundice or yellowy skin, itching, and loss of appetite. Cirrhosis can further cause other complications like edema or even lead to liver cancer.
Doctors use pathology tests as well as liver biopsy to confirm the disease. Typically, if detected in the early stage of cirrhosis, treatment is done to preserve what is left of the liver. However, if it is further gone, then the patients may be advised to undergo a liver transplant.
Different types of Hepatitis virus like A, B, C or D also affect the liver. Hepatitis A, the most common one, results in a lot of deaths around the world. It affects our body, just like other viruses and is infectious. Hepatitis B is contracted through vaginal fluids, or semen and infected blood. Hepatitis C also spreads through infected blood. Hepatitis D is rather unique and only affects Hepatitis B patients.
Hepatitis is caused either because of genetic disorders or due to some medications. It causes the liver to infame. Hepatitis A is waterborne, while B is mostly spread due to unprotected sex or from a pregnant mother to a baby. Even sharing infected needles can spread this. Hepatitis C is only spread through blood; usually through blood transfusions. Hepatitis D spreads through blood transfusions and needle contacts. Even sharing infected razors, toothbrushes, or nail clippers can spread Hepatitis B and C.
Symptoms: Hepatitis results in symptoms like abdominal pain, fatigue, fever, nausea, jaundice, itching, weight loss, abdominal swelling etc.
Physicians make you undergo Hepatitis blood tests and check your family medical history to make a diagnosis. Treatment depends on the nature of the virus as well as the damage to the liver, with periodic checkups if required. Hygiene, hydration and abstention from alcohol are a very important part of the treatment.
Since the liver is helping the body flush out the toxins, it is susceptible to the toxins and can result in cancer. Primary cancer occurs in the liver itself due to genetic causes, alcohol abuse, Hepatitis B or C infection, cirrhosis or birth defects. Secondary cancer is the result of cancer metastasis from other body parts. Various diagnostic tests, including biopsy may be done, to confirm the disease. Treatment depends on the stage of the cancer and may differ from person to person. At times, a liver transplant may also be suggested.