Early Symptoms of Liver Disease: How to Recognize, Test & Treat

Early Symptoms of Liver Disease: How to Recognize, Test & Treat| HealthSoul

The liver is a crucial organ in our body. It sits under the rib cage, on the right side of the abdomen, and is essential in aiding digestion, eliminating waste, and transforming the food we eat into energy.

Liver diseases can be inherited or acquired throughout the lifetime of an individual. These problems can be caused by viruses, obesity, or alcohol use. Over time, liver damage can increase to levels that can no longer be controlled or treated, leading to liver failure and life-threatening health conditions.

Liver disease is a term that covers issues that damage the liver and its ability to function. If you are struggling with liver problems, you should consult a healthcare professional to get the best treatment for your condition.

In this article, we’ll focus on the early liver disease symptoms and their prevention, treatment, and diagnosis.

Diagnosis of Liver Diseases

Liver diseases can go undetected for many years before being diagnosed and treated. So, it is essential to have regular checkups if you have any of the symptoms mentioned below regarding liver health.

Liver disease diagnosis includes different tests: blood test, a Fibroscan liver test, and liver function tests – that include prothrombin time, L-lactate dehydrogenase, bilirubin, serum albumin, and total protein test alkaline phosphatase.

Tests

A series of blood tests can help in the differential diagnosis of any liver problem. These tests can determine whether the liver condition is acute or chronic or if the liver is obstructed, infected, or has malignancy.

Liver Enzymes Test

Different liver enzymes can be tested. Below are some of the most common ones.

  • ALanine Transaminase Test (ALT) – measures the levels of the enzyme released into the bloodstream after the liver has suffered acute cell damage; it can help in diagnosing and evaluating hepatitis.
  • Serum Alkaline Phosphatase Test (SAPT) – measures the levels of the alkaline phosphatase enzyme in the liver; this enzyme can be found in the bones and biliary tract as well and the test is performed to determine whether there is an obstruction, abscess, or a tumor.
  • Aspartate Transaminase Test (AST) – helps diagnose heart issues since this enzyme is released into the bloodstream and found in red blood cells, kidneys, heart, pancreas, and skeletal muscles.
  • Lactic Dehydrogenase Test (LDT) – this type of test examines the protein released into the body’s metabolic processes, however, it’s rarely used for diagnosis
  • Imaging tests – these can include an MRI, CT scan, or an ultrasound
  • Biopsy – with a biopsy, the healthcare professional removes a small sample of tissue from the liver and sends it to pathology to determine whether there’s a tumor present

General Symptoms

Acute liver disease displays a wide range of symptoms, including: pale stools, fever, tiredness/weakness, nausea, vomiting, dark urine, pain under the right side of the ribs, jaundice, or yellowing of the eyes and skin.

50% of the affected individuals will experience no liver disease symptoms, while others can have a sudden onset of symptoms.

Liver Diseases

There is a wide range of diseases that can affect the liver. Some include parasites and viral infections, while others are due to immune system abnormalities.

Due to Infection

Liver diseases due to infection include hepatitis A, B, C, D, and E. These viral infections can spread through semen or blood, contaminated water, or close contact with someone infected. The viral infection can affect normal liver function and lead to progressive disease.

Genetic Diseases

Genetic liver diseases are those you inherit from your parents. Some of the most common ones include Wilson’s disease, hemochromatosis, and alpha-1 antitrypsin deficiency.

Cancer

Different types of cancer can develop in the liver: bile duct carcinoma, liver adenoma, and liver cancer. All of them require different types of testing and treatment.

Immune Diseases

Immune liver diseases happen when the immune system attacks the normal liver cells. Some of them include primary sclerosing cholangitis, primary biliary cholangitis, and autoimmune hepatitis.

Treatment

Treatment of liver conditions will depend on the diagnosis. Some of the issues might be treated with certain lifestyle modifications; such as losing weight, reducing alcohol intake, exercising daily, avoiding trans fats, red meat, or processed carbohydrates.  While other liver issues will require stricter treatments and medications, or even surgery.

Healthcare professionals prescribe medication for treating inherited or viral infections, or when the liver disease is at its final stage, a liver transplant might be required.

Take Care of Your Health

To take care of your health, you need to make some adjustments to your lifestyle. Avoid risky behavior and use condoms during intercourse, get vaccinated if you are at an increased risk of viral liver infection, and reduce your alcohol intake.

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