The liver is the largest solid organ located in the upper right portion of the abdomen and protected by the rib cage. It is also considered a gland as it produces and secretes bile among many other functions. The liver is responsible for performing many critical functions within the body. It is essential for digesting food, filtering out toxic substances, turning food into energy, and converting nutrients into chemicals that the body needs. Any disturbance of liver function can affect the whole body.
The liver disease covers all the potential problems caused by a variety of factors which affects its functionality. Liver disease or hepatic disease can impair the liver’s ability to perform its metabolic, detoxification, and storage functions. The loss of those functions can cause significant damage to the body and may lead to liver failure, a life-threatening condition.
Different things can cause serious liver conditions. Let’s find out the major causes of liver disease and get expert tips by family medicine doctor to prevent this life-threatening health problem.
Top Causes of Liver Disease
There are various causes of hepatic disease including infections, immune system abnormalities, genetics, cancer, and tumors.
Sometimes, certain viruses and parasites infect the liver, causing inflammation that affects its function. Viral hepatitis is the most common type of liver infection, including:
- Hepatitis A – You get it by consuming contaminated food or drink. It generally goes away within 6 months without causing long-term harm.
- Hepatitis B – Having unprotected sex or taking drugs with shared needles are a few ways to get hepatitis B. It increases the risk of liver cancer or other diseases if lasts longer than 6 months.
- Hepatitis C – It comes from infected blood that gets into your blood. However, symptoms may not appear for many years.
Immune System Abnormalities
To fight off bacteria and viruses, your immune system attacks certain parts of the body that can affect your liver as well. Some of the autoimmune liver diseases include:
- Autoimmune Hepatitis – It inflames the liver and is more likely to affect women than men. It can lead to other disorders and even liver failure.
- Primary Biliary Cirrhosis – It attacks bile ducts that help in digestion. Due to injured ducts, the bile backs up and scars the liver.
- Primary Sclerosing Cholangitis – It scars and blocks bile ducts. When bile builds up inside the liver, it affects the working of the liver which may lead to liver cancer.
An abnormal gene inherited from your family can cause the liver disorder. Some genetic liver diseases include:
- Hemochromatosis – It makes your body store excess iron, which builds up in your liver, heart or other organs. This can lead to diabetes, liver or heart disease.
- Hyperoxaluria – It occurs when your urine has an excess chemical called oxalate. Your liver makes chemical to control oxalate. If your liver produces less chemical, oxalate builds up that can cause kidney stones and failure.
- Wilson’s Disease – In this genetic disorder, copper builds up in your body that affects your liver and can cause nerve problems.
- Alpha-1 Antitrypsin (AAT) Deficiency – Your liver makes AAT that helps your lungs to resist infections. When your body does not make enough AAT, it may cause liver disease.
Cancer and Tumors
If cancer shows up in your liver, it is usually spread from lung, colon, breast and other body parts. However, a few cancers can build up in the liver.
- Liver Cancer – Hepatocellular carcinoma is the most common type of liver cancer that occurs in the main type of liver cell. If you have hepatitis or drink excess, you are likely to have liver cancer.
- Bile Duct Cancer – It hits tubes in the liver that run to your small intestine to carry bile, which helps in digestion.
- Liver Adenoma – It is a tumor that has a small chance of turning into cancer. Women who are actively using contraceptive pills are more prone to developing it.
Additionally, other common causes of liver disease are chronic alcohol abuse, drug overdoses, and fat building up in the liver that can inflame it and leads to nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD).
Tips to Prevent Liver Disease
Some of the effective ways to prevent liver disease as advised by the best family care doctors are as follows:
- Consume alcohol in moderation to help reduce the risk.
- Lower the risk of exposure to another person’s body fluids.
- Include a well-balanced diet, routine exercise, and other healthy lifestyle modifications.
- Take drugs only when needed and in recommended doses.
- If you are at higher risk of hepatitis virus, consult your family physician for getting hepatitis A and B vaccines.
To protect your liver, it is important to make regular appointments with your family physician. If you are looking for the best doctor of family medicine in Brooklyn, contact Artisans of Medicine today! With the advanced diagnostic equipment and skilled team of doctors, we are competent in providing you with the utmost and comprehensive care.