Alcoholic Liver Disease
Alcoholic liver disease is a result of overconsuming alcohol which damages the liver. Over time, this can lead to a buildup of fats, inflammation, and scarring (also called cirrhosis). Cirrhosis is the final phase of alcoholic liver disease. When the liver tissue starts to scar, the liver cannot work properly. As a result, the body does not produce enough proteins or filter toxins out of the blood as it should. This can be fatal if left untreated.
Your doctor can diagnose alcoholic liver disease by first taking a medical history and discussing your history of drinking. Your doctor may also run some lab tests to rule out other conditions that may affect the liver. Some forms of liver disease may be reversed with treatment, but alcoholic liver cirrhosis usually cannot be reversed. However, your doctor can recommend treatments that may slow the disease’s progress and reduce your symptoms. This may include medications, instructions to stop consuming alcohol, nutritional counseling, extra protein, or a liver transplant.
If the liver is damaged by certain diseases or conditions, it attempts to heal itself by forming permanent scar tissue (cirrhosis). This accumulates if damage persists. Scarring makes it difficult for the liver to perform necessary functions, such as detoxifying harmful substances in your body, cleaning your blood, and making vital nutrients. If caught and treated early, damage can be limited, but advanced cirrhosis can be life threatening.
Symptoms may include fatigue, bleeding easily, bruising easily, itchy skin, yellow discoloration in the skin and eyes (jaundice), fluid accumulation in your abdomen, loss of appetite, nausea, swelling in your legs, weight loss, confusion, drowsiness, and slurred speech, and spider-like blood vessels on your skin.
Cirrhosis is diagnosed using medical and family history, physical exams, blood tests, imaging tests, and/or liver biopsies. Treatment may include lifestyle change (avoiding alcohol), medications, and several surgical options based on the cause of your condition.
Hepatitis is an inflammation of the liver. Hepatitis may occur due to drug or alcohol use, or even certain medical conditions in which the body attacks healthy liver cells, but the most common cause is one of three possible contagious viruses: hepatitis A, hepatitis B, and hepatitis C.
Symptoms of these viruses include loss of appetite, nausea and vomiting, diarrhea, dark-colored urine and pale bowel movements, stomach pain, and yellowing of skin and eyes (jaundice). Hepatitis is diagnosed using blood tests and/or liver biopsies. If the results detect hepatitis A, patients tend to get better in a few weeks without treatment. Those with hepatitis B, when chronic, may be treated with injected medication or oral medication. And those with hepatitis C, when chronic, require a combination of injected and oral medication. This is a form of chemotherapy. If hepatitis progresses to liver failure and treatment is ineffective, a liver transplant may be needed.
When a liver is damaged, it struggles to regulate red blood cells as they break down. This allows bilirubin, a brownish-yellow substance which comes from the breakdown of these cells, to build up in the body. As the bilirubin level elevates, it can cause the skin, mucous membranes, and of the white of the eyes to appear yellowish. This discoloration is called jaundice, and it may be a sign of an underlying disease.
Yellowing skin and eyes are the most obvious symptoms, but your doctor may also perform a physical exam or variety of lab tests and imaging tests to confirm the diagnosis. Treatment for jaundice will depend on the cause of the condition. Once we have identified the underlying disease, we can determine the most appropriate treatment.
The liver filters blood as it circulates through the body, making it vulnerable to a variety of cancer cells in the bloodstream. Symptoms of liver cancer may include pain, swelling, or tenderness in the upper right section of the abdomen; weight loss; loss of appetite; yellowing of the skin and whites of the eyes (jaundice); itching all over the body; swollen legs; fever; nausea; vomiting; fatigue or general weakness; mental confusion, pain in the left side of the abdomen from an enlarged spleen; and spider-like blood vessels on your skin.
Early detection of cancer contributes to a better response to treatment. Our team diagnoses liver cancer using blood tests, CT scans and MRIs, and liver biopsies. Depending upon the stage of the liver cancer, there are a variety of drug therapies and surgical procedures available to treat liver cancer.