The liver is an organ about the size of a football that sits under your rib cage on the right side of your abdomen. The Liver is essential for digesting food and ridding your body of toxic substances. Liver disease can be inherited (Genetic) or caused by Variety of factors that damaged the liver such as viruses and alcohol use. Obesity is also associated with liver damage. The damage to the liver results in scarring (Cirrhosis) which can lead to liver failure, life-threatening condition.
The ten warning signs of liver diseases include-
- Skin and eyes that appear yellowish (Jaundice)
- Abdominal pain and swelling
- Swelling the legs /and ankle
- Itching skin
- Dark urine colour
- Pale stool colour, or bloody or tar coloured stool
- Chronic fatigue
- Nausea or vomiting
- Loss of appetite
- Tendency to bruise easily
There are different diseases of the liver which can be recognised from its manifestation. The common liver disease that poses challenges are: Viral Hepatitis, Commonest cause of jaundice in India. It is due to different types of viral infections like Hepatitis A, E, B and C which are diagnosed by blood test (Serological Test).
Alcoholic Hepatitis - Acute inflammation in the liver resulting from overindulgence in alcohol can result in acute liver failure.
Cirrhosis of liver: This results from chronic hepatitis B and C infection and alcohol abuse and obesity.
Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease – It is due to unhealthy diet resulting in too much fat in the Liver. Left untreated this can lead to cirrhosis of the liver, heart attack or stroke.
Liver cancer – It can manifest with abdominal pain, jaundice, rapidly feeling ascites and weight loss.
Liver cysts- The problem arise when the deceased liver produces fluid filled certer such as cysts. There are no warning signs until the cysts become large and can cause pain and discomfort.
Jaundice due to obstruction of the biliary system caused by stones, cancer of the bile duct and pancreatic cancer. The condition is treatable if diagnosed at an early stage.
Autoimmune liver disease- Autoimmune Hepatitis, primary biliary cirrhosis, and primary sclerosing cholangitis are diseases that are when the immune system attacks certain parts of the body which eventually affects the liver.
Is there any diagnostic test available?
The doctor will recommend the patient to go through some of the tests to be sure about the disease. Below are some of the tests that can diagnose liver lesions.
1. Liver function tests which may reflect the healthy or diseased state of the Liver.
2. Serology test for Hepatitis A, E, B and C detects the cause of jaundice in a case of Viral Hepatitis.They also rule out any evidence of chronic Hepatitis B and C infection.
3. Quantitative assessment of AFP is helpful in the diagnosis of hepatocellular cancer.
4. Autoimmune factors- ANF, anti-smooth muscles antibody if detected favours the presence of autoimmune Liver disease.
5. Imaging techniques like USG, CT scan and MRI gives a complete picture of the liver and biliary tract and helps to diagnose the presence or absence of liver disease.
6. Liver biopsy- in certain disease liver biopsy is necessary to confirm the nature the liver diseases, help in initiating therapy.
Is there any treatment available?
Most of the liver diseases can be treated with medical treatment. However, in case of primary liver cancer, certain therapeutic interventions are necessary like chemotherapy, Transarterial chemoembolization and Radiofrequency ablation which can cure the disease.
It must be remembered in case of acute liver disease and in patients who are suffering from terminal liver diseases, the disease can progress to chronic liver failure- and the only cure available is liver transplantation.