The Liver, located on the right side of the abdomen, under the rib cage is one of the largest and most important organs in the body. It produces the necessary biochemicals that are responsible for digesting food and driving toxic substances out of the body. However, there are several diseases that can occur to a liver if it’s not taken care of properly. A few of these are genetic in nature, but other than inherited liver problems, the rest are caused by a variety of factors. Certain viruses, infections, alcohol addiction, and obesity can not only damage but also lead to scarring or cirrhosis of the liver. Prolonged damage and cirrhosis can lead to liver failure which is a life-threatening condition. All these can be avoided only by seeking early treatment, which helps the liver to heal.
Liver Disease Symptoms
Liver disease symptoms or problems are not always significant or cause noticeable signs. However, liver disease symptoms may include:
- A tendency to bruise easily
- Abdominal stomach pain & swelling
- Swelling in the legs & ankles
- Dark urine color
- Nausea or vomiting
- Loss of appetite
- Pale stool color
- Chronic fatigue
- Itchy skin
Causes of Liver Disease
1. Immune System Abnormality
Liver problems may occur due to immunity disorders. Due to some autoimmune disorders, the immune system may attack certain parts of the body, affecting the liver. Such autoimmune liver problems may include Hepatitis, Primary Biliary Cholangitis or Sclerosing Cholangitis.
Liver infection can be caused due to parasites and viruses leading to inflammation inside the liver, which reduces liver function. Such kind of Liver damage caused by viruses can spread easily. The infection can even spread through blood or semen, contaminated food or water, or even through close contact with the sick person. The common types of liver infection associated with Hepatitis viruses include Hepatitis E, A, B & C.
Not only Liver Cancer but also Bile Duct Cancer or Liver Adenoma can affect the liver and lead to various liver diseases.
Liver problems can be inherited through an abnormal gene from one or both of the parents. Such genes may cause various substances to build up inside the liver and can damage it. Some genetic liver problems are Hemochromatosis, Alpha-1 antitrypsin deficiency & Wilson's disease.
5. Other Causes of Liver Disease
There are other factors that can cause liver problems which may include:
- Alcohol addiction
- Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease
- Wrong medications
Liver treatment is very specific to the diagnosis & condition. While some liver problems are treated with medications, some liver problems are treated with lifestyle changes. These changes may include zero alcohol consumption, weight loss, or a change in the diet. During this period, the liver specialist may closely monitor the patient’s liver function. Liver problems such as liver failure may require surgery or a Liver Transplant.
Lifestyle changes help to improve liver health. Once diagnosed, the liver specialist may ask the patient to quit alcohol or avoid certain red meat, trans fats, processed carbohydrates, and high-fructose fat. Lifestyles changes also include a moderate-intensity exercise of 30 to 60 minutes around twice or thrice a week. Obese patients may require to shed 500 to 1,000 calories daily.
The liver specialist may ask to avoid some dietary or herbal supplements to reduce scarring. It is important to discuss the potential risks before making any lifestyle or dietary changes with the liver specialist.
Diet for Liver Problems
To treat liver problems, the liver specialist may change the diet as per the individual’s needs:
- Food to avoid: Food items that contain high fat, sugar and salt. Avoid fried foods, fast food and unhealthy eating. Raw or undercooked meats are strictly not allowed.
- Quit alcohol: Alcohol is harmful to a liver and in case of any liver problem diagnosis, one must quit alcohol immediately. However, if the condition is not severe or at a higher stage, then taking a moderate amount of alcohol can be permitted, but one must consult with the liver specialist first.
- Drink lots of water: To prevent dehydration and let the liver function better, one must drink an adequate amount of water as per body weight & needs.
- A balanced diet: To keep liver the healthy, one must include adequate grains, vegetables, meat, fruits, beans, milk and oil substances in their daily meal.
- Eat a high-fiber diet: Eating a high fiber diet helps the liver to work at an optimal level. Fiber can be consumed through daily meals containing fruits, vegetables, whole-grain bread, rice & cereals.
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