What is liver disease?
The liver is a foot-ball-sized organ in the abdomen that helps digest food and rids the body of toxic substances. Liver disease refers to severe scarring and damage to the liver that degrades the liver’s ability to function properly and can eventually lead to liver failure.
Liver disease can be genetic or caused by a variety of conditions, including viruses, alcohol use, and obesity.
Learn more about the signs and symptoms of liver disease, along with preventative steps, and the treatments we offer to help get you back to normal life.
Signs & Symptoms of Liver Disease
As many as 1 in 10 people in the U.S. have some type of liver disease, but many don’t experience symptoms. When symptoms do occur, they may include:
- Yellowish skin or eyes (jaundice)
- Abdominal pain or swelling, especially on the right side
- Swelling in the legs or ankles (edema)
- Itchy skin
- Dark-colored urine
- Pale-colored stool
- Chronic fatigue
- Nausea or vomiting
- Loss of appetite
- Bruising easily
You should seek immediate medical help if you have abdominal pain so severe you can’t sit still.
Several risk factors can increase the chances of developing liver disease or liver-damaging conditions that can progress into cirrhosis or liver disease:
- Heavy alcohol use
- Type 2 diabetes
- Tattoos or body piercings
- Injecting drugs using shared needles
- Blood transfusion before 1992
- Exposure to others’ blood and body fluids
- Unprotected sex
- Family history of liver disease
Prevention of Liver Disease
Behavioral and lifestyle changes can help prevent liver disease, including:
- Drink alcohol in moderation
- Avoid risky behavior like unprotected sex or intravenous drug use
- Get vaccinated for hepatitis A and B
- Use medication wisely, only when needed, and only in recommended doses
- Avoid contact with others’ blood and body fluids
- Keep your food safe and wash your hands
- Take care with aerosols and chemical substances to avoid breathing or absorbing toxic chemicals
- Maintain a healthy weight
Complications of Liver Disease
Over time, these conditions can damage the liver, causing scarring called cirrhosis that can lead to life-threatening liver failure. Fortunately, early treatment of liver disease can give the liver time to heal. The liver is the only organ in the body that can regrow itself after removal or damage.
Treatment of Liver Disease
To determine the right course of treatment, your physician may use a blood test, imaging test (ultrasound, CT, or MRI scan), or biopsy to help diagnose liver disease.
At Vascular & Interventional Specialists, we use a minimally invasive procedure called a transjugular intrahepatic portosystemic shunt (TIPS) to treat liver disease. A TIPS helps create new connections between blood vessels in the liver to treat fluid buildup and recurrent variceal bleeding in the abdominal cavity.
During the procedure, a shunt is inserted via catheter through the jugular vein and used to connect the hepatic and portal veins to increase blood supply to the liver. This also decreases pressure in the portal vein, lowering the risk of bleeding and ascites (accumulation of fluid in the abdomen).
Please Contact A Doctor If...
you are at risk for liver disease or are seeing any symptoms. You should seek immediate medical help if you have abdominal pain so severe you can’t sit still.
VIS is here to help. If you are at risk for aortic disease or have experienced one or more of the signs & symptoms, please reach out to schedule a screening. We’ll walk this journey with you.