Raising Awareness of Primary Biliary Cholangitis During September

Summary: Primary biliary cholangitis (PBC) is a health disorder that impacts the bile ducts in the liver. It may cause liver damage and other concerns.

As a vital organ, the liver maintains numerous essential functions in the gastrointestinal (GI) tract, including separating unwanted byproducts from the bloodstream, regulating glucose levels, and storing vitamins and minerals. Within the liver, a group of canals (referred to as bile ducts) carries the bile to the small intestine to assist with digesting food. In the event the bile ducts become occluded or deteriorate, the liver’s ability to function becomes impaired. One concerning health condition that can cause trauma to the bile ducts is an autoimmune concern termed primary biliary cholangitis (PBC).

The vast majority of individuals who have primary biliary cholangitis are females age 40 – 60, though men along with women under 40 could also develop the disorder. Without treatment, PBC may lead to liver failure and create the need for a liver transplant. Identifying the condition early is key to experiencing the most favorable prognosis. A gastrointestinal (GI) specialist can provide a diagnosis for primary biliary cholangitis and determine treatment options that can help slow disease advancement.

September is Primary Biliary Cholangitis Awareness Month. If you may be at risk for PBC, we encourage you to schedule a visit at Hinsdale Gastroenterology Associates. Our Hinsdale, IL gastrointestinal doctors can provide personalized treatment and help you manage the disorder.

What is PBC?

Primary biliary cholangitis is a rare autoimmune disease that occurs when an individual's hyperactive immune system attacks otherwise healthy bile ducts. This can cause inflammation that incrementally damages the bile ducts. If bile is unable to flow into the small bowel, it collects in the liver and causes liver damage. Primary biliary cholangitis was previously termed primary biliary cirrhosis, but the name was amended to distinguish it from alcohol and drug-related liver diseases. Although the precise causes of primary biliary cholangitis remain undetermined, medical professionals surmise the body’s immune system response might be triggered by environmental or genetic factors.

What are the symptoms of primary biliary cholangitis?

Throughout its initial phases, PBC will likely show no distinct symptoms, which makes it pertinent to receive periodic lab work to check the function of the liver. Patients who do have symptoms of PBC may report:

  • Dry mouth (xerostomia)
  • Itchy skin (pruritus)
  • Dry eyes
  • Tiredness

When the liver disease becomes more advanced, the inflammation in the organ can cause cirrhosis, a situation where scar tissue develops in the liver and hinders its ability to function. The signs and symptoms of serious damage to the liver are:

  • Lesions on the skin containing cholesterol and fat (called xanthomas)
  • Pain in the abdomen
  • Jaundice (yellowing of the skin)
  • Weight loss
  • Swollen feet and ankles or edema

In the event you or a member of your family have any of the above signs or symptoms, seek medical assistance promptly. You can talk with a gastrointestinal specialist near you by contacting Hinsdale Gastroenterology Associates. Our experts treat individuals in the Hinsdale, IL community who have primary biliary cholangitis and other liver problems.

In what way is primary biliary cholangitis detected?

A gastrointestinal specialist can evaluate individuals for primary biliary cholangitis by examining specific markers in the blood having to do with liver function. Greater quantities of the enzyme ALP (alkaline phosphatase) and AMAs (antimitochondrial antibodies) in the blood could signal the presence of PBC. Diagnostic imaging procedures can also be ordered to get a closer look at the bile ducts and liver to scan for indications of damaged tissue. These diagnostic images could help dismiss other reasons for liver impairment. A liver biopsy might be carried out in patients where the exact condition is still undetermined. During a biopsy, a tiny amount of the person's liver tissue is removed and forwarded to a medical laboratory to be assessed microscopically by an expert.

Are there treatments for primary biliary cholangitis?

While there is no way to cure PBC, certain medications might help slow the advancement of the liver condition. Ursodiol, a naturally occurring bile acid, is frequently administered to assist in the movement of bile from the liver to the small intestine. If utilized in the early stages of the disease, the medication might improve liver function and postpone liver transplant needs. Side effects of PBC (such as itchy skin, dry eyes, and high cholesterol levels) may also be treated and controlled by taking medication.

Treat primary biliary cholangitis in Hinsdale, IL

Should you or a member of your family receive a PBC diagnosis, experienced care can be received at Hinsdale Gastroenterology Associates. Featuring an accomplished team of GI specialists, Hinsdale Gastroenterology Associates offers modern treatment and advanced research into GI health issues, including primary biliary cholangitis. Contact our practice in Hinsdale, IL today to discover more about PBC and how it can be addressed.

Article Reference Source: https://www.interceptpharma.com/our-focus/pbc/