Wednesday, January 25, 2023

Most Common Types of Liver Disease and How to Treat Them

It is believed that liver diseases are characteristic only of people leading an unhealthy and sedentary lifestyle. The liver is a gland of external secretion and performs the most important functions in the human body.

The liver performs many functions, the most important of which is the neutralization and removal of dangerous chemical compounds that enter the body from the outside with food, air, water, and metabolic end products that are toxic to the body (ammonia, phenol, ethanol, etc.).

In addition, the liver removes excess organic substances - hormones, vitamins, and trace elements. Gluconeogenesis also occurs here - producing glucose necessary for energy metabolism and cellular respiration and synthesizing certain hormones and enzymes.

According to experts, it is especially advisable to undergo a liver diagnosis test for those who suffer from the following:

  • constant fatigue and general weakness
  • decreased appetite and weight loss
  • pain and heaviness in the right hypochondrium
  • the yellowness of the skin and sclera
  • changes in the color of stool and urine
  • sensations of bitterness and an unpleasant taste in the mouth
  • nausea, skin rashes
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From the point of view of morphological changes in the liver tissue, it is conditionally possible to distinguish several groups of pathological conditions that occur in various diseases: hepatosis, hepatitis, cirrhosis, and tumor diseases of the liver.

1- Hepatosis (fatty degeneration, steatosis) 

 It is a common name for all non-inflammatory liver diseases. Hepatosis is based on the excessive accumulation of fat in liver cells - hepatocytes. Hepatosis, as a rule, occurs in the following liver diseases: non-alcoholic fatty liver disease, alcoholic liver disease, drug-induced liver disease, and some others.

Diagnosis of this disease is based on the detection of increased echogenicity of the liver and an increase in its size during the ultrasound. 

Treatment usually consists of excluding those factors that led to fatty degeneration (diet, avoidance of alcohol, physical activity). To maintain the functioning of the liver, drugs with hepatoprotective properties are prescribed. The development of hepatitis is possible over time without treatment against the background of this disease.

Hepatitis is a group of inflammatory diseases of the liver of infectious and non-infectious origin. The causative agents can be viruses A, B, C, D, E, F, and G, the bacteria Listeria monocytogenes (listeriosis), Treponema pallidum (syphilis), and Leptospira (leptospirosis).

Non-viral forms of the disease include alcoholic hepatitis, drug-induced hepatitis, toxic hepatitis, autoimmune hepatitis, and radiation hepatitis. Viral hepatitis is by far the most common type. Statistics indicate that viral hepatitis B and C top the list of causes of death worldwide. About 170 million people worldwide suffer from hepatitis C, twice as many with hepatitis B.

2- Cirrhosis 

Cirrhosis- an independent disease or condition that is the final stage of various chronic liver diseases. This diagnosis is made when pathological changes in the liver cells become irreversible. Against the background of the death of hepatocytes, they are replaced by fibrous tissue. In developed countries, liver cirrhosis is one of the six leading causes of death in patients aged 35 to 60.

According to Child-Pugh, a special scale determines the liver's functional state in cirrhosis. According to the Child-Pugh scale, cirrhosis has three stages - compensated, sub-compensated, and decompensated. Compensation means that the liver is still performing its functions, despite the inflammatory and necrotic processes.

When cirrhosis itself is not a separate disease, it can be caused by any factors affecting the functioning of the liver - viral hepatitis, alcohol, obesity, taking toxic drugs, unfavorable environmental conditions, etc. In general, form cirrhosis of the liver is an irreversible condition. The most effective method of treatment is a liver transplant - transplantation. A diet, vitamin complexes, and hepatoprotective drugs are prescribed as maintenance therapy.

3- Tumor diseases

 The most common benign liver tumors are hemangiomas, hepatocellular adenomas, cysts, and nodular hyperplasias. If a benign tumor of the liver is found, surgery is necessary, which is performed by a hepatologist surgeon. In some cases, nonsurgical treatment or local injection therapy is used.

As for malignant tumors, then they include primary liver cancer and metastatic cancer. Metastatic cancer means that the primary node of the tumor is in another organ, but the diseased cells have spread to the liver and begun to grow.

According to statistics, liver cancer ranks 5th in frequency among all malignant neoplasms and is the cause of death of more than a million people every year, about 600,000 cases of this disease are diagnosed annually in the world. The most common malignant tumor of the liver is "hepatocellular carcinoma". Carcinoma, like cirrhosis, can be the end stage of other liver diseases - cirrhosis, hepatitis, steatosis, etc.

Copyright: National Cancer Institute on Unsplash  I License: CC0 Public Domain

Modern methods are widely presented to assess the state of the liver and diagnose the disease and its complications:

  1. Biochemical studies ( blood tests )
  2. Ultrasound examination (ultrasound)
  3. Serological diagnosis of viral infections
  4. PCR diagnostics - qualitative and quantitative methods for determining nucleic acids of viruses affecting the liver
  5. Determination of immune status
  6. Endoscopic techniques
  7. Fibro/ActiTest, FibroMax, and all the necessary methods for diagnosing damage to other organs and systems against the background of liver disease.   

Causes of liver disease

Since the liver performs hundreds of essential functions, its role is difficult to overestimate; therefore, liver diseases are hazardous for the whole body. There are several leading causes (risk factors) of liver disease:

  1. excessive alcohol consumption
  2. sedentary lifestyle and malnutrition
  3. viral, bacterial, and parasitic infections
  4. intoxication of various kinds
  5. genetic disorders, etc

Prevention of liver diseases

Last but not least, prevention includes a mandatory cessation of alcohol and smoking, personal hygiene, physical activity, and a diet - without carcinogenic compounds and chemical additives, canned foods, fried and smoked. Reducing the consumption of fatty foods, including confectionery fats and fatty meats, is necessary. Steamed or boiled food should be preferred.

To avoid fat deposits, limiting the consumption of sweets is desirable. A special vaccination is also required to prevent some types of hepatitis.

This is a guest blog entry.

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