What Is Liver Disease?
There are a variety of types of liver disease that disrupt the normal function of the liver including chronic liver failure, viral hepatitis, alcoholic liver disease, metabolic liver disease, autoimmune liver disease, vascular liver disease, or hepatocellular carcinoma (liver cancer). Regardless of the variety of liver disease, the organs function is usually affected in a similar pattern. The early stages of any liver disease cause inflammation. Inflammation usually indicates that the body is trying to fight a virus or heal, but if the liver remains inflamed over time, it can cause more permanent damage. That damage can cause scarring, which is also called fibrosis as the scar tissue replaces healthy liver tissue and reduces the chances that the liver will repair itself. The next stage is cirrhosis, which is when the scarring is so severe that the damage cannot be repaired. Cirrhosis can lead to cancer or liver failure.
What Causes Liver Disease?
Liver disease is caused by a variety of factors including conditions like hepatitis, the obstruction of bile flow, high cholesterol, poor blood flow in and out of the organ, and certain chemicals and minerals. Alcohol and drug abuse is another common cause of liver disease. Alcohol is toxic to the liver and the extra work the organ has to do to process alcohol can lead to inflammation and cirrhosis.
How Is Liver Disease Treated?
The treatment of liver disease depends on the condition. Some forms of liver disease are managed through medication and dietary changes. Some more severe forms of liver disease are best addressed through surgery to remove the diseased tissue. Fortunately, the liver is able to repair itself, and the body does not require the full organ to be present to function correctly. Many people are able to lead normal lives following liver surgery.