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Chronic liver disorders

  • By Team TDO

Some major chronic liver disorders are as follows: Hepatitis, fatty liver, cirrhosis of liver and hemochromatosis.

Hepatitis

Hepatitis is characterized by inflammation of the liver cells caused by viral infections. Common viruses known to cause hepatitis are hepatitis A, B and C. Patients with hepatitis present with fever, headache, body ache, and most importantly jaundice, yellowish discoloration of skin and urine. Diagnosis of hepatitis is based on the altered liver function test. Causative virus can also be identified by serological test directed towards the specific virus. According to the causative virus, hepatitis is classified into hepatitis A, B, and C.

Hepatitis A is usually transmitted through food whereas hepatitis B and C are usually transmitted through blood and other body fluids. Among all these types, hepatitis B carries the worst prognosis. Treatment for hepatitis is usually symptomatic and supportive.

Fatty liver disease

A healthy liver does not contain fat. Appearance of fat cells within the different anatomical structures of liver is always pathological and the condition is called fatty liver. Signs and symptoms usually correlate with the severity of the disease. Early form of fatty liver is known as steatosis and produces little or no symptom. As the disease progresses, it leads to fibrosis culminating into cirrhosis. Various factors like alcohol consumption, hepatitis, etc., are known to cause fatty liver. Risk factors for developing fatty liver are smoking, alcoholism, obesity, high blood pressure, high blood cholesterol, diabetes, etc. Fatty liver is diagnosed by abnormal liver function test confirmed by USG or CT scan of abdomen. Treatment of fatty liver is symptomatic and supportive combined with lifestyle modification.

Cirrhosis of liver

In cirrhosis of liver, healthy liver tissue undergoes fibrosis due to chronic damage to the liver. Fibrosis is irreversible in nature. As a result, normal function of the liver is gradually diminished. Symptoms of cirrhosis may vary depending on the severity. Mild cirrhosis may not even produce any symptom whereas severe cirrhosis produces wide range of symptoms. Some important symptoms of severe cirrhosis are: Collection of fluid in the abdominal cavity known as ascites, enlargement of breast in men, abnormal nerve function, jaundice, itching, loss of appetite, loss of muscle mass, etc. Common causative factors of cirrhosis are alcohol consumption, bile duct obstruction, certain heart diseases, infections like hepatitis, etc. Diagnosis of cirrhosis is done by a combination of different tests. Liver function test is done for estimation of bilirubin and liver enzymes in blood. This is combined with USG and CT scan of abdomen. Treatment of cirrhosis is based on the nature and extent of the disease and other patient related factors. Since it is a progressive liver disease and damage to the liver is irreversible, treatment is mainly symptomatic and supportive with proper nutrition, avoidance of toxins like alcohol, supplementation of vitamins, and management of complications. However, in severe cases liver transplantation may be considered.

Hemochromatosis

Hemochromatosis is characterized by excess iron overload in the body due to increased absorption of iron. Greater amount of circulating iron is deposited in the organs like liver and heart. If left untreated, liver may undergo fibrosis, followed by cirrhosis. Extra iron is removed from the body by administering iron chelating agents. Commonly used iron chelating agents are desferrioxamine and deferiprone.

Most of the chronic liver disorders like cirrhosis and fatty liver are progressive in nature. Preventive measures through lifestyle modifications may prevent chronic liver disorders.

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