Liver Disease Awareness Month: Guard Your Health Against Liver Issues
As the weather cools down and we shift our focus to pumpkin spice, it is equally imperative to turn our attention to our health, to one of the most essential and hardest working parts of the body — the liver. The liver is in charge of helping us digest food, turn food into energy, and remove harmful substances from our bodies so that we can remain healthy.
As a whole, the liver is a vital organ that carries out numerous functions, enabling us to experience optimal health. During the month of October, we seek to raise liver disease awareness. It reminds us of the vital role of this organ and to ask important questions like: "What steps can I take to improve my liver function?" or "How can I determine if I have liver disease?" The gastrointestinal doctors at GI Alliance of Illinois are pleased to address these questions and can assist you in receiving the care you need for a healthy liver. Continue reading as our Illinois team provides helpful information regarding diseases that affect liver health.
Are there various types of liver disease?
In general, liver disease refers to medical issues that result in inflammation or damage to the liver. Liver disease is not a "condition" per se but rather an overarching name to reference the varying types of conditions that may affect the liver. The causes of the different forms of liver concerns can also vary. Specific liver conditions develop from excessive alcohol consumption or infections like viruses, while others may be caused by excess bilirubin in the liver. Overall, liver disease includes a variety of conditions, including:
- Bile duct diseases – These conditions cause blockage in the bile ducts and inhibit the proper flow of bile. Bile duct diseases may consist of:
- Birth defects (such as biliary atresia)
- Inflammation (this leads to scarring and can cause liver failure)
- Jaundice – An excess of bilirubin in the liver causes the white areas of the eyes along with the skin to have a yellow hue.
- Fatty liver disease – A condition that develops when a buildup of fat accumulates within your liver. Fatty liver disease may lead to cirrhosis of the liver.
- Cirrhosis of the liver – Healthy areas of liver tissue are taken over by scar tissue, causing impaired liver function.
- Hepatitis – This concern involves inflammation of the liver.
Given the differences among these conditions, it is best to partner with an experienced digestive health specialist to identify the factor(s) underlying your liver condition. A personalized treatment strategy can then be designed to help address your individual needs.
What are some of the symptoms of liver disease?
Despite that varying liver issues can stem from different causes, several symptoms of liver disease are often the same. It is vital to visit a GI specialist at GI Alliance of Illinois, so a diagnosis and treatment plan can be provided. Common signs and symptoms of liver disease involve:
- Itchy skin
- Yellowish hue to the skin and white areas of the eyes (jaundice)
- Abdominal swelling and pain
- Dark urine
- Depressed appetite
Should you experience one or more of the symptoms, please request a consultation with one of our digestive health specialists in Illinois.
How can I improve the health of my liver?
When receiving care from a GI doctor for a liver condition, you may be provided personalized instructions on the steps you should take to improve your specific concerns. However, there are recommendations that every person should incorporate to elevate their liver health and function. These are:
- Adhere to a balanced diet.
- Avoid foods with high levels of fat, salt, and sugar.
- Drink adequate amounts of water.
- Avoid or limit alcohol.
- Consume foods rich in fiber.
Get liver disease treatment in Illinois
About 1 out of every 10 people in the U.S. is affected by some variation of liver disease. As such, you or a family member may require help identifying treatment strategies available for liver disease. During October, Liver Disease Awareness Month, we invite you to contact GI Alliance of Illinois for an appointment to find out how our team treats liver issues or the path you can take to help avoid them. In the event you are already experiencing signs or symptoms of liver disease, our Illinois gastrointestinal specialists will listen to your concerns, provide a diagnosis, and create a personalized treatment approach to address your unique needs.