Primary Biliary Cholangitis (PBC) in Phoenix, AZ
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What is PBC (primary biliary cholangitis)?
Primary biliary cholangitis (PBC), formerly referred to as primary biliary cirrhosis, is a rare chronic liver condition. PBC is a progressive immune system disorder that gradually damages the bile ducts (known as the intrahepatic bile ducts) in your liver. Bile helps with the digestive process and rids your body of fat, impurities, and worn-out red blood cells. This condition could cause severe problems in your liver. When the bile ducts become injured or dysfunctional, this allows bile to build up in your liver and create scarring. When the liver becomes too damaged, it could cause cirrhosis.
If you would like to hear more details regarding this disease or to get treatment for primary biliary cholangitis (PBC) in Phoenix, AZ, we encourage you to request a consultation with us. Our Arizona Digestive Health team is here to provide individualized care for patients within the community.
What causes primary biliary cholangitis?
PBC is an autoimmune disorder. This means that your body mistakenly attacks healthy tissues and cells. Liver inflammation is caused when white blood cells, called T cells, begin to collect and destroy healthy cells within the liver. Inflammation in the bile ducts spreads to other parts of the liver, destroying those cells and causing scarring. When your liver begins to scar more and more, it starts to function improperly, causing liver cirrhosis. It is unclear what causes these T cells to hurt normal cell tissue, but it seems to be inherited.
Factors of increased risk
Some of the risk factors related to having PBC are:
- Country or region (Primary biliary cholangitis is most widespread in North America and Northern Europe)
- Being a female
- Family line (individuals are more likely to get this condition if a member of the family has experienced it)
- Certain infections
- Being 30 to 60 years old
- Smoking and other toxic chemicals
To learn more about PBC and how it damages a person's body, talk to a gastrointestinal specialist at Arizona Digestive Health today.
What are the symptoms of PBC?
Generally, symptoms of PBC will not appear until 5 – 20 years after detection. The diagnosis of PBC commonly takes place while testing for other issues. The first symptoms of PBC are fatigue, dry eyes and mouth, and itchy skin.
Other frequent signs of PBC include:
- Sore muscles
- Dark skin not connected to UV rays
- Discomfort in the upper right abdomen
- Painful joints
- Fragile bones
- High cholesterol
- Yellowing of the skin or eyes (jaundice)
- Loose and greasy bowel movements
- Swollen feet and ankles
It is imperative that PBC is diagnosed as soon as possible. If you believe you could be in danger of getting PBC, or you are experiencing one or more of the named symptoms, our Phoenix, AZ GI providers are ready to assist.
How is PBC treated?
Presently, there is no way to reverse primary biliary cholangitis. Treatment helps with slowing the progression of the condition and alleviating the symptoms. A few of the common treatment recommendations include:
- Fibrates (lower liver inflammation and itching)
- Staying active
- Ursodeoxycholic acid (works to flush bile through your liver)
- Obeticholic acid (promotes liver health)
- Receiving a donor liver
The typical lifespan for a person with PBC once they begin showing symptoms is a decade if they do have a liver transplant. Even though there is no cure, you will be able to receive the treatment necessary to live a better life. Our GI providers are ready to help you explore the treatment options available to you.
Seek help for PBC.
If you believe you or a member of your family could be displaying the symptoms or signs of PBC, please know that personalized care is available. The gastrointestinal providers at Arizona Digestive Health are pleased to offer treatment options to help you address this liver problem and improve your health and well-being. To consult with a specialist who provides treatment for primary biliary cholangitis in Phoenix, AZ, don't hesitate to contact our team today.
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