The liver is the largest body organ which is responsible for hundreds of body functions. The liver is one of the most vital organs which perform various functions such as metabolism of nutrients and excretion of waste metabolites. It controls the flow and safety of substances that are absorbed from the digestive system before the distribution of substances to the systemic circulatory system. Also, liver processes bile which is a greenish-yellow fluid that aids the digestion of fats and the absorption of fat-soluble nutrients.
There are multiple numbers of problems associated with the liver, which occur due to problems or damage to the liver. A complete loss of liver function can lead to death within minutes. There are various factors that can damage the liver and cause liver disease. Some of the most common types of liver disease are as follows:
Cirrhosis is defined as a final stage of the chronic liver disease which is responsible for a large number of deaths in the United States. It is a very slow acting disease which occur due to damage to the liver. Damage to the liver can cause a scar. Whenever any damage occurs to the liver, the cells of the liver are killed and leads to the development of scar and this process of the occurrence of a scar is known as fibrosis. The point when the whole liver is scarred, it hardens and causes cirrhosis. Cirrhosis is a serious liver disease and if it is left untreated, it can cause liver failure.
Cirrhosis causes various problems in the human body as it prevents the flow of blood through the liver and increases the pressure in the portal vein, known as portal hypertension. At the early stage of cirrhosis, a patient may not experience any symptoms but as this disease progresses and cause portal hypertension, it may cause symptoms like low energy, poor appetite, loss of muscle mass, and weight loss. There are many causes of cirrhosis such as intake of excessive alcohol and other liver diseases like hepatitis and non-alcoholic fatty liver disease.
2. Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease
Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease is a very common disorder which refers to the groups of diseases occur due to the build-up excessive fat in the liver of people who do not consume alcohol. Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease is characterized by the inflammation of the liver. The severity of non-alcoholic fatty liver disease varies from mild to serious and the serious type of this disease is often known as Non-Alcoholic Steatohepatitis.
Non-Alcoholic Steatohepatitis is a very serious type of non-alcoholic fatty liver disease and it is characterized by extra fat, causing the liver to get inflamed. It is accompanied by redness and over time, inflammation causes constant damage to the liver. Majorly there are no symptoms but as this disease becomes extremely serious, it can cause symptoms like fatigue, a feeling of being unwell, and discomfort in the upper abdomen.
Obesity is one of the most common risk factors for non-alcoholic fatty liver disease and researchers have concluded that almost one in every five patients having non-alcoholic fatty liver disease are obese. Some other risk factors for this disease include diabetes, high cholesterol, and high blood pressure.
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3. Hepatitis A
Hepatitis A is considered to be one of the most common viral infection across the world. The term hepatitis refers to inflammation of the liver. Hepatitis A is defined as an inflammation of the liver which is caused by an infection from the hepatitis A virus. Not everyone having hepatitis A experience symptoms. Many patients having hepatitis A do not experience any symptoms, whereas some may experience symptoms like fever, tiredness, nausea, loss of appetite, abdominal discomfort and dark urine.
Hepatitis A virus can easily spread from one person to another through an intake of anything that has been contaminated by the stool of a person who is infected by this virus. This can happen in a number of ways such as when an infected individual does not wash his or her hands after using a washroom. In most cases, hepatitis A is self-limiting and complications that are associated with this liver disease are more common in adults older than 50 years.
4. Hepatitis B
Hepatitis B is a lifelong infection which is caused by the virus hepatitis B. This type of virus is found in the blood of an infected person and it spreads from one person to another when the blood or other body fluid of an infected person reaches the body of a non-infected person. This can happen in many ways such as sexual contact, sharing needles, and if an infected person bites a healthy person.
A wide range of symptoms can occur with the development of hepatitis B such as yellowing of the skin, nausea, bloating, fatigue, loss of appetite, pain in the joints, and fever.
5. Hepatitis C
Hepatitis C is defined as an inflammation and an infection in the liver, which is caused by the virus known as hepatitis C. Hepatitis C is of two types - acute hepatitis C and chronic hepatitis C. Acute hepatitis C refers to first few months after being infected and the severity of this liver disease can range from very mild to extremely severe. On the other hand chronic hepatitis C is a condition which occurs when an individual fails to clear the virus and develops a lifelong condition. Chronic hepatitis C is associated with serious health complications.
Generally, hepatitis C do not have any symptoms but in some cases, it may cause symptoms like fatigue, fever, upset stomach, joint pain, yellow skin and eyes, and discolored urine.