Your liver, which helps your body eliminate toxins, store energy, and digest food, is your largest organ. Its crucial functions mean that damage to the liver can cause serious and potentially fatal complications. Unfortunately, a wide range of diseases can change your liver’s function and affect your overall health. These conditions are classified under liver disease and can have life-threatening repercussions if not treated by a liver disease Anchorage specialist. Here is a look at five top types you should know about and seek treatment for promptly.
Autoimmune Liver Disease
An autoimmune liver disease is a chronic condition whereby your immune system mistakenly attacks your liver as it would foreign objects. There are two major types of autoimmune liver diseases, Primary Biliary Cirrhosis (PBC) and Autoimmune Hepatitis (AIH). In the former, your immune system attacks the liver’s bile ducts. This condition can lead to cirrhosis – or liver scarring – if left untreated. In AIH, your immune system attacks your liver’s cells, causing cirrhosis and inflammation over time. Patients with a history of other autoimmune conditions like diabetes and thyroid disease are at a higher risk of developing autoimmune liver diseases.
Liver damage can be caused by inflammation caused by an infection. The most common cause of this is viral hepatitis, with patients developing Hepatitis A, B, or C. In most cases, patients contract Hepatitis A by consuming food or drinks contaminated with fecal matter. This condition may not cause symptoms and often resolves on its own within 6 months without lasting damage. Hepatitis B, on the other hand, is spread through contact with an infected person, more specifically through shared needles, unprotected sex, and other similar activities. Hepatitis B, which lasts longer than 6 months, can increase your risk of liver cancer.
Liver conditions can also be hereditary. The most common inherited liver diseases are Wilson’s Disease and Hereditary Hemochromatosis, both of which are caused by abnormal metal depositions into the liver. With time, the metal enters the liver, causing injury. In Hereditary Hemochromatosis, the body fails to regulate the amount of iron in the body, while Wilson’s Disease involves the deposition of copper.
Fatty Liver Disease
There are two primary classifications of fatty liver disease – non-alcoholic fatty liver disease and alcoholic fatty liver disease. While medical experts are unsure of what causes NAFLD, AFLD results from fat accumulation in the liver caused by chronic alcohol intake. If left untreated, both these conditions can lead to liver cirrhosis, damage, and failure.
Cancer and Tumors
Cancer that appears in the liver is almost always spread from a different part of the body like the breasts, colon, or lings. However, some cancers start in the liver. Also called hepatocellular carcinoma, liver cancer is more common in people who drink too much or have hepatitis. Patients over 50 can also develop bile duct cancer, but this is uncommon.
Discuss Liver Disease Symptoms with a Specialist
Did you know that there are currently 1.5 billion people in the world living with chronic liver disease? Multiple things can go wrong with your liver, and, considering how important it is to your health, it is crucial to seek help early. A liver disease specialist can help diagnose and treat your liver disease so you can maintain your quality of life and recover. To learn more, contact a specialist today.