Liver Disease Definition, Causes & Symptoms, Diagnosis, Treatment

Liver Disease Definition

Liver disease is a term used for any disorder of the liver or liver that causes this organ to not function properly. Liver disease can be caused by many factors, such as viral infections, alcoholism, and fat accumulation in the liver.

The liver or liver has a variety of important functions, including cleaning the blood of harmful compounds. In addition, the liver also produces proteins that play an important role in the blood clotting process.

The liver can repair its damaged cells. However, in patients with liver disease, the liver cells are damaged quite a lot so that their function is disrupted. Usually, liver function will begin to decline when the damaged liver cells reach 75%.

The decline in liver function generally occurs gradually. Damage caused by decreased liver function will follow the development of the underlying disease.

Causes of Liver Disease

The causes of liver disease are very diverse. The following are some types of liver disease based on the cause:

1. Alcohol-related liver disease

Liver disease can be caused by excessive consumption of alcoholic beverages. This condition is known as alcohol-related liver disease. This happens because alcohol is toxic to liver cells, especially when the liver filters alcohol from the blood.

2. Fatty liver or non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD)

Under normal conditions, liver cells should contain only a small amount of fat. Accumulation of fat in liver cells can cause liver disorders.

Fatty liver often occurs in people who are obese.

3. Hepatitis

Hepatitis is a liver disease caused by inflammation of the liver tissue. This condition can occur suddenly or in the long term. Hepatitis consists of several types, including hepatitis A, B, C, D, E, and autoimmune hepatitis.

4. Toxic hepatitis or toxic hepatitis

This condition is caused by exposure to toxic chemical compounds. Types of toxins that can cause toxic hepatitis can come from drugs, dietary supplements, or other chemicals.

Consuming or using certain drugs in excess, especially without following the advice of a doctor, can also cause liver disease. Some types of drugs that can cause toxic hepatitis are paracetamol, amoxicillin, isoniazid, diclofenac, fenofibrate, amiodarone, flutamide, allopurinol, and phenytoin.

5. Cholestatic liver disease or cholestatic liver disease

Liver disease due to cholestasis can be caused by various things, such as disorders of liver cells ( hepatocellular cholestasis ) or bile ducts ( cholangiocellular cholestasis ). Some causes of cholangiocellular cholestasis are primary biliary cirrhosiscystic fibrosis, and primary sclerosing cholangitis.

6. Inherited liver disease ( inherited liver disease )

Liver disease is caused by a genetic disorder that causes impaired liver function. The two best known causes of genetic liver disease are hemochromatosis and alpha-1 antitrypsin deficiency.

7. Liver cancer

Liver cancer is a type of cancer that begins in the liver. There are several types of liver cancer, namely hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC), hepatoblastoma, and cholangiocarcinoma. HCC is the most common type of liver cancer.

Liver disease risk factors _

There are several factors that can increase a person’s risk for liver disease, namely:

  • Being overweight or obese
  • Excessive alcohol consumption
  • Exposure to certain toxins or chemicals
  • Abusing drugs, especially those who share needles
  • Exposure to other people’s blood or body fluids
  • Frequently changing partners in sexual relations
  • Undergo a permanent tattoo or piercing procedure
  • Suffering from diabetes or elevated triglyceride levels
  • Have a family who suffers from liver disease

Symptoms of Liver Disease

Symptoms of liver disease in each person can be different, depending on the type and cause. However, in general, there are several symptoms that can appear due to liver disease, namely:

  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Stomach pain
  • Decreased appetite
  • Decreased sexual desire (libido)
  • Excessive fatigue
  • Changes in the color of the stool to pale or black
  • Urine color becomes dark
  • Yellow skin and eyes or jaundice
  • Skin feels itchy and bruises easily
  • Swelling in the abdomen ( ascites )
  • Swelling in the legs

In liver disease caused by infection or inflammation of the liver tissue (hepatitis), patients may experience other complaints, such as fever or upper right abdominal pain.

Liver Damage Stage

In addition to some of the symptoms mentioned above, people with liver disease will experience a decrease in liver function in line with the development of liver disease itself. Some of the stages are:

Level 1

Liver disease at this stage is characterized by inflammation of the liver cells. This condition causes the liver tissue to become soft and swollen. If not treated properly, inflammation can cause permanent damage to liver tissue.

Level 2

At this stage, the liver begins to undergo fibrosis, which is a condition when scar tissue begins to grow to replace damaged liver tissue. Scar tissue formation is actually a natural process that the body does to heal wounds. However, the formation of this fibrosis actually makes the liver unable to function properly.

Level 3

This stage is characterized by the occurrence of cirrhosis, which is severe damage to the liver due to the buildup of scar tissue. Cirrhosis is caused by long-standing liver disease.

Liver cirrhosis is the final stage of liver disease. At this stage, the liver is no longer able to function properly. This condition will be characterized by the appearance of more serious complaints and symptoms.

Level 4

At this stage, liver damage has occurred completely so that liver function is completely lost. This stage is also known as liver failure. This condition can occur acutely or chronically.

Damage to the liver that has reached the final stage cannot be cured. Patients generally require special handling and care. One of the recommended treatments at this stage is a liver transplant.

When to go to the doctor

Check with your doctor if you experience the above symptoms. You are also advised to regularly check with your doctor if you have factors or conditions that can increase the risk of liver disease.

Immediately see a doctor if you experience very severe abdominal pain, especially if it is accompanied by the appearance of jaundice and fever. If you have been diagnosed with liver disease, follow the therapy given by your doctor. Some liver diseases require intensive treatment.

If you are advised to take certain drugs, always follow the doctor’s advice and do regular check-ups to monitor the progress of therapy and whether there are side effects due to drug use.

Liver Disease Diagnosis

To diagnose liver disease, the doctor will ask questions about the symptoms experienced, as well as the patient’s medical history and risk factors, such as a history of taking previous drugs or the amount of alcohol consumed per day.

After that, the doctor will perform a thorough physical examination, including seeing changes in skin and eye color, swelling in the abdomen and legs, and the presence or absence of tenderness in the abdomen.

To make a diagnosis, doctors need to find the cause of liver disease as well as the severity of the condition. Some of the investigations that can be done to confirm the diagnosis are:

blood test

Blood tests are useful to determine inflammatory conditions that occur in the liver and liver function. Some types of blood tests that can be done are:

  • Liver function examination, to determine the levels of protein, albumin, and bilirubin in the blood, levels of SGOT, SGPT enzymes, as well as GGT enzymes and alkaline phosphatase
  • Complete blood count, to check for a decrease in red blood cells, white blood cells, and platelets
  • Examination of INR ( international normalized ratio ), to see the function of blood clotting
  • Examination of lipase enzyme levels, to detect inflammation of the pancreas
  • Examination of ammonia levels, to determine whether impaired consciousness occurs due to accumulation of ammonia which generally occurs in liver failure
  • Serological examination, to check and detect whether liver disease is caused by a viral infection, such as A, B, C, or D

Other checks

In addition to blood tests, the doctor may ask the patient to undergo the following tests:

  • Scanning with ultrasound, CT Scan, or MRI, to get a clear picture of the liver and surrounding organs
  • Liver biopsy, to detect the presence or absence of tissue abnormalities
  • Genetic tests, to diagnose genetic disorders that may be the cause of liver disease

Liver Disease Treatment

Treatment of the liver disease depends on the underlying cause, severity, and condition of the patient. Liver disease that is detected at an early stage and treated early has a greater potential for recovery than one detected and treated at a more serious stage.

In general, several methods of treating liver disease are:

  • Living a healthy lifestyle, such as losing weight, quitting alcohol, and avoiding taking drugs without a doctor’s advice
  • Drink more water, get enough rest, and eat healthy foods, especially to treat hepatitis A
  • Taking diuretic drugs and a low-salt diet, to treat cirrhosis
  • Undergo gallbladder removal surgery, to treat gallstones
  • Undergo a liver transplant, to treat conditions that have reached the stage of liver failure

Liver Disease Complications

Complications that can occur due to liver disease depend on the cause. Some diseases and conditions that can occur when a person has liver disease are:

  • Bleeding
  • Infection
  • Malnutrition or malnutrition
  • Weight loss
  • Decreased cognitive function
  • Heart cancer

Liver Disease Prevention

To prevent liver disease, there are several actions that need to be taken, namely:

  • Maintain ideal body weight according to body mass index
  • Avoid excessive consumption of alcoholic beverages.
  • Follow a hepatitis vaccination program to prevent hepatitis B infection.
  • Do exercise regularly.
  • Eat a complete and balanced nutritious diet.
  • Wash your hands regularly before cooking, eating, and after using the toilet.
  • Maintain good sanitation and cleanliness of the surrounding environment.
  • Avoid changing partners in sexual intercourse.
  • Don’t use NAPZA.
  • Consult a doctor before taking any medication.
  • Do regular checkups to the doctor to monitor liver health.
  • Avoid exposure to harmful chemicals, other people’s blood, or body fluids, by using personal protective equipment.

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