Primary Biliary Cholangitis (PBC) in Illinois
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What is PBC (primary biliary cholangitis)?
Primary biliary cholangitis (PBC for short), is a rare chronic liver disease. Previously known as primary biliary cirrhosis, this progressive autoimmune disease slowly destroys the bile ducts in the liver. Bile helps aid in digestion and rids the body of bad cholesterol, toxins, and worn-out red blood cells. If the bile ducts become damaged, bile can build up and scar the liver. Once the liver becomes too damaged, you could develop liver cirrhosis. For more information about PBC, we encourage you to request a consultation at GI Alliance of Illinois. With several locations in Chicago, IL to Peoria, IL, and Bloomington, IL, our GI specialists are able to help you maintain your liver health when, and where, convenient for you.
What causes PBC?
PBC is an autoimmune disease, meaning that the body reacts poorly to bacteria and infections and as a result attacks healthy cells and tissues. Liver inflammation is caused when white blood cells (T cells) start to collect and attack the healthy cells in the liver. From there, inflammation in the small ducts will spread to other parts of the liver, killing cells that have scarring. The more the liver scars, the more improperly it will function, leading to cirrhosis. While it's uncertain what causes the attack of the white blood cells, it is apparent that it may be genetic.
Some risk factors associated with PBC:
- Age 30 – 60 years
- Being a woman
- Genetics (you are more likely to get PBC if a family member has had it)
- Geography (PBC is more common in northern Europe and North America)
- Certain infections
- Smoking and other toxic chemicals
For more information about PBC and how it disrupts the function of the body, contact a skilled provider at GI Alliance of Illinois today.
What are the symptoms of PBC?
Typically, the symptoms of PBC don't become apparent until 5 – 20 years after diagnosis. Diagnosis usually happens when testing for other conditions rather than a concern of symptoms. Early symptoms of PBC, however, include fatigue, a dry mouth, dry eyes, and itchy skin.
Other symptoms of PBC may include:
- Pain in the upper right abdomen
- Joint pain
- Swollen feet and ankles
- Sore muscles
- High cholesterol
- Dark and greasy stools
- Dark skin not related to sun exposure
- Jaundice (yellowing of the skin or eyes)
- Brittle bones
It's best to get a PBC diagnosis as soon as possible which is why, if you have a family history of this condition or any combination of the symptoms above, you should contact your nearest GI Alliance of Illinois location to request a consultation.
What are the treatments for PBC?
While there is no cure for PBC currently, there are treatments that focus on slowing the progression of the disease and treating some of the complications that come along with it. Some treatment options include:
- Vitamins and/or supplements
- Obeticholic acid (improves liver function)
- Fibrates (reduce liver inflammation and itching)
- Ursodeoxycholic acid (helps move bile through your liver)
- Liver transplant
Once a person starts showing symptoms of PBC, the expected life expectancy is about 10 years without a liver transplant. While there is no cure, there are ways to help you live a more enjoyable life during this time. To find out what treatment options are available to you, contact a location in Illinois to connect with a GI specialist.
Find care for PBC
If you or someone you love is experiencing symptoms of primary biliary cholangitis, personalized care is available at GI Alliance of Illinois. Our providers will work with you to gather more information about you and suggest the best treatment options. For more information about PBC or to request a consultation with a GI specialist, contact your nearest Illinois location.
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