Raising Awareness of Liver Disease This October
As the air becomes cooler and you are looking ahead to the events of fall, it is equally essential to turn your focus to your health, which includes one of the most crucial and hardest working parts of the body — the liver. Your liver is responsible for facilitating digestion, changing the food you eat into energy, and removing harmful particles from your system so that you can remain healthy.
The liver is an essential organ that conducts a range of tasks so the body can be in a healthy state. October is designated as Liver Disease Awareness Month. It is vital to consider the health of your liver and ask questions such as: "How can I help boost my liver health?" or "How do I know if I have liver disease?" The gastrointestinal specialists at Arizona Digestive Health are ready to answer these questions and can assist you in receiving the best care possible for your liver health. Keep reading as our Arizona team provides further details about diseases that affect the liver.
What are the various forms of liver disease?
In general, the term "liver disease" describes medical conditions that bring inflammation or damage to the organ. Liver disease is not a singular "condition" per se but rather an overarching name to refer to the variety of conditions that may interfere with liver health. The causes of various liver concerns may differ as well. Certain liver conditions occur from excessive alcohol intake or infectious agents such as a virus, while others could be caused by an overabundance of bilirubin in the liver. Liver disease is comprised of a number of conditions, including:
- Bile duct diseases – Such conditions block the bile ducts and impede the flow of bile. These diseases can include:
- Inflammation (this leads to scarring and can cause liver failure)
- Birth defects (like biliary atresia)
- Jaundice – An excess of bilirubin in the liver causes the white areas of the eyes and the skin to take on a yellow hue.
- Hepatitis – This condition is characterized by liver inflammation.
- Fatty liver disease – A condition that develops when fat has accumulated within a person's liver. Fatty liver disease may result in liver cirrhosis.
- Cirrhosis of the liver – Healthy liver tissue is overtaken by scar tissue, causing impaired liver function.
Because of the broad differences among these diseases, it is recommended to talk with a skilled GI doctor to discover the factor(s) underlying your liver issues so that the optimal treatment strategy can be created to help improve your health.
What are the common symptoms of liver disease?
While varying liver conditions can have different causes, some signs and symptoms of liver disease are often the same. It is vital to visit a GI doctor at Arizona Digestive Health, so a diagnostic and treatment approach can be provided. Signs of liver disease are:
- Yellowing of the skin and white areas of the eyes (jaundice)
- Abdominal swelling and pain
- Itchy skin (pruritus)
- Dark-colored urine
- Decreased appetite
If you present with one or more of the symptoms mentioned here, please reach out to one of our gastrointestinal doctors in Arizona to arrange for a consultation.
How can I boost liver function?
If you are under the care of a GI doctor for conditions affecting the liver, you will most likely be provided personalized instructions on how you can help address your specific concerns. However, there are several helpful tips that every person should consider to boost their liver function and health. These tips involve:
- Consume foods high in fiber.
- Drink plenty of water.
- Avoid foods with high levels of sugar, fat, and salt.
- Adhere to a well-balanced diet.
- Avoid or limit the consumption of alcoholic drinks.
Learn more about liver disease treatment in Arizona
Given that about 1 out of every 10 individuals in the United States is impacted by some form of liver disease, you or a family member might need help locating treatment strategies available for this health concern. In honor of October being Liver Disease Awareness Month, we urge you to contact Arizona Digestive Health to set up an appointment to learn how our physicians can address liver disease or the path you can take to help avoid it. For individuals already experiencing symptoms of liver disease, our Arizona GI specialists can assess any concerns, determine a diagnosis, and identify a treatment protocol that best addresses your unique health concerns.