Liver Health Month: Causes of Liver Disease & When to Seek Care
Liver disease can have various causes, and it's essential to understand them and know when to seek medical care. Here are some common causes of liver disease and indicators for seeking professional help:
Hepatitis B virus (HBV) and Hepatitis C virus (HCV) can cause inflammation and long-term liver damage if left untreated. Seek care if you have been exposed to these viruses or experience symptoms such as fatigue, jaundice, abdominal pain, or dark urine.
Alcohol-Related Liver Disease (ALD):
Excessive and chronic alcohol consumption can lead to liver inflammation, fatty liver, alcoholic hepatitis, or cirrhosis. Seek care if you have a history of heavy alcohol use and notice symptoms like jaundice, abdominal swelling, or unexplained weight loss.
Non-Alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease (NAFLD) and Non-Alcoholic Steatohepatitis (NASH):
NAFLD and NASH are conditions characterized by the accumulation of fat in the liver, typically associated with obesity, diabetes, and metabolic syndrome. Seek care if you have risk factors and experience persistent fatigue, abdominal discomfort, or abnormal liver function tests.
Autoimmune Liver Diseases:
Conditions such as autoimmune hepatitis, primary biliary cholangitis, and primary sclerosing cholangitis involve the immune system mistakenly attacking liver cells or bile ducts. Seek care if you experience unexplained fatigue, itching, jaundice, or abdominal pain.
Genetic and Inherited Liver Diseases:
Genetic conditions like hemochromatosis, Wilson disease, and alpha-1 antitrypsin deficiency can affect liver function and lead to liver damage. Seek care if you have a family history of these conditions or experience symptoms related to liver dysfunction.
Drug-Induced Liver Injury (DILI):
Certain medications, herbal supplements, or toxins can cause liver injury. Seek care if you notice signs such as jaundice, abdominal pain, nausea, or changes in urine or stool color after starting a new medication or supplement.
It's important to remember that this is not an exhaustive list, and liver diseases can have various causes. If you are concerned about your liver health or experience persistent symptoms related to liver dysfunction, it's crucial to consult with a healthcare professional for proper evaluation and management.
Mayo Clinic. (2021). Liver Disease. Retrieved from https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/liver-problems/symptoms-causes/syc-20374502
American Liver Foundation. (n.d.). Liver Diseases. Retrieved from https://liverfoundation.org/for-patients/about-the-liver/diseases-of-the-liver/
National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases. (2021). Liver Disease. Retrieved from https://www.niddk.nih.gov/health-informati