The liver is a hardworking organ that allows you to digest food properly, store energy, and filter toxins from certain foods, drugs, and alcohol. While you may not think about your liver much, it serves several vital functions that you could not live without. Therefore, liver disease should not be taken lightly when symptoms like easy bruising of the skin, abdominal pain, yellowing skin, or bloody stools appear. These symptoms may be present with a number of varying conditions affecting the liver, which means that you should discuss them immediately with your physician. Below is a look at a few of the possible outcomes that may be diagnosed when the characteristic symptoms of liver disease are present.
Cirrhosis describes scarring of the liver, which may result from injury, alcohol use, or other liver diseases . Obesity combined with high-fat diets has contributed to the development of cirrhosis, making it much more common over the past few decades. When there is scar tissue in the liver, the function of the organ is impaired. This might lead to increased sensitivity to medication, jaundice, internal bleeding, and swelling in the abdomen and lower body. Cirrhosis cannot be reversed, but measures may be taken to slow down the rate of scar tissue formation and preserve healthy tissue.
Hepatitis comes in several forms, and these are all viral infections of the liver that may be spread through sharing needles, blood transfusions, or unprotected sex. Medication can manage hepatitis, but it is best treated through prevention with vaccinations during childhood.
Primary liver cancer, or cancer that develops in the liver, is somewhat rare, but may be caused by cirrhosis, hepatitis, heavy drinking, or certain chemical exposures. Cancer that originates elsewhere in the body and travels to the liver is more common than primary liver cancer in most western countries, though the opposite is true in Asia and Africa, likely due to higher rates of hepatitis infections.
Take the time to have an annual checkup and ask about your liver health. From preventive care to imaging services to state-of-the-art cancer care, West Hills Hospital can cover your health needs with convenient, accessible care in the western San Fernando Valley.