Increasing Awareness of Liver Disease Throughout the Month of October
As the air becomes cooler and you are gearing up for the events of fall, it is also critical to turn our focus to our health, including one of the most crucial and integral portions of the body — the liver. This organ is in charge of facilitating digestion, changing the food we eat into energy, and extracting toxic materials from our system to help us remain in good health.
The liver is a vital organ that conducts numerous tasks, enabling us to enjoy a healthy life. During the month of October, we seek to raise liver disease awareness. It is an important reminder that it is vital to monitor our liver health and ask important questions like: "How can I boost my liver health?" or "How can I tell if I'm at risk for liver disease?" The gastroenterologists at GI Alliance are ready to address these questions and more and can help you access the care you need for your liver health. Read on as our GI team explains helpful details regarding conditions that impact the liver.
What are the various forms of liver disease?
The term "liver disease" refers to medical conditions that result in damage or inflammation to the organ. Liver disease is not a singular "condition" per se but an umbrella term to reference the collection of conditions that can impact the liver. The causes of the different types of liver issues can vary as well. Some liver conditions arise due to excessive alcohol intake or infections such as viruses, and others can be due to excess bilirubin present in the liver. Overall, liver disease is comprised of a variety of conditions, including:
- Bile duct diseases –These diseases cause blockage in the bile ducts and prevent the flow of bile. Bile duct diseases can include:
- Inflammation (this leads to scarring and can cause liver failure)
- Birth defects (like biliary atresia)
- Jaundice – An overabundance of bilirubin in the liver causes the white portions of the eyes along with the skin to take on a yellow color.
- Fatty liver disease – A condition that arises when a buildup of fat accumulates inside a patient's liver. This may result in liver cirrhosis.
- Cirrhosis – Healthy tissue within the liver is overtaken by scar tissue, resulting in diminished liver function.
- Hepatitis – This condition is characterized by liver inflammation.
Due to the vast differences involving the conditions mentioned here, it is best to speak with an experienced digestive health specialist to confirm your liver issues so that the right treatment strategy can be designed to help address your needs.
What are the signs of liver disease?
Even though varying liver conditions can have different causes, many liver disease signs and symptoms are commonly the same. It is essential to be evaluated by a gastroenterologist at GI Alliance so a diagnosis and treatment protocol can be determined. Signs of liver disease include:
- Itchy skin (pruritus)
- Abdominal pain and swelling
- Yellowish hue to the skin and white portions of the eyes (jaundice)
- Dark-colored urine
- Depressed appetite
In the event you show any of these signs or symptoms mentioned above, please get in touch with one of our gastrointestinal specialists to arrange for an appointment.
What can I do to improve liver function?
When receiving care from a GI specialist for issues affecting the liver, you may be given personalized information on how you can help address your specific condition. However, there are a few recommendations that everyone should incorporate to boost their liver function and health, which involve:
- Eat foods high in fiber.
- Adhere to a balanced diet.
- Consume plenty of water.
- Avoid foods with high levels of fat, sugar, and salt.
- Avoid or limit alcohol consumption.
Find liver disease treatment at GI Alliance
With approximately 1 out of 10 Americans impacted by some variation of liver disease, you or a family member might need help finding treatment options available for liver concerns. In honor of October being Liver Disease Awareness Month, we encourage you to contact a GI Alliance location near you to request a consultation to learn more about how we can address liver disease or the steps you can take to help prevent it. For patients already facing symptoms of liver disease, our board-certified gastroenterologists can review your concerns, provide a diagnosis, and create an individualized treatment plan that best suits your unique needs.