Chronic Liver Disease Treatment
What Is Chronic Liver Disease?
The liver is a vital organ that helps your body digests food, removes toxins, metabolizes drugs and alcohol, produces proteins important for the blood and clotting, and is crucial for nutrition. Liver, or hepatic, disease refers to conditions that may harm the liver and decrease its ability to function normally. Liver disease, whether acute or chronic, can pose a significant risk to one’s health. Many factors can contribute to the risk of developing chronic liver disease: lifestyle behaviors, genetics, and medications.
The Northwest Gastroenterology & Endoscopy Center team specializes in the treatment of chronic liver disease to help optimize liver function and prevent life-threatening consequences. To schedule an appointment at our Westside or Eastside clinic, please call (503) 229-7137 or request an appointment online.
Causes of Chronic Liver Disease
Your susceptibility to liver disease is influenced by genetic and environmental factors. Two of the most common causes of liver disease are obesity and heavy alcohol consumption. Viral infections and genetic disorders are also common etiologies of liver disease.
Causes of chronic liver disease:
- Autoimmune Hepatitis
- Primary Biliary Cirrhosis
- Wilson’s Disease
- Fatty Liver
- Alcohol-related Liver Disease
- Hepatitis B, Hepatitis C
In some conditions and certain cases, inflammation left untreated in the liver may lead to scarring, or fibrosis, of the liver. Advanced scarring of the liver, or cirrhosis, affects other organs like the kidneys and blood vessels.
Risk factors that increase the likelihood of developing liver disease include:
- Type 2 diabetes
- High toxin exposure
- Having unprotected sex
- Sharing needles or straws for drugs
- Tattoos at non-professional parlors
- High cholesterol or triglyceride levels
- Underactive thyroid (hypothyroidism)
Symptoms of Chronic Liver Disease
One of the most common chronic liver disease symptoms is jaundice, yellowing of your skin and eyes. Other symptoms may include:
- Chronic fatigue
- Hair loss
- Itchy skin
- Dark urine
- Weakness or muscle loss
- Mental disorientation and confusion
- Loss of appetite and weight loss
- Curling of fingers
- Spider-like veins
- Nausea or vomiting
- Swelling of legs or ankles
- Abdominal pain or swelling
- Pale, bloody or tar-colored stool
Chronic Liver Disease Diagnosis
Arrival at the diagnosis of a chronic liver condition can take many forms. Serologic or blood tests typically comprise initial evaluation. Your physician at Northwest Gastroenterology Clinic will review your medical history and perform a physical examination. Exams that may be pursued include:
- Liver function tests: blood tests can help look for genetic conditions or viral hepatitis
- CT scan, MRI, or ultrasound: imaging tests can look for sequelae of chronic liver damage
- Liver biopsy: a long needle is inserted into the skin to remove a tissue sample of the liver for further study
Treatment for Chronic Liver Disease
If the signs and symptoms of chronic liver disease are found in the early stages, treatment can help minimize damage to the liver and in some cases, restore a degree of normal function.
Since your liver plays a crucial role in digestion and works to removes toxins, diet and nutrition are critical in maximizing its ability to function properly.
Avoiding alcohol, high sodium, sugar, and saturated fats from your chronic liver disease diet, and replace them with cruciferous and green leafy vegetables, healthy fats, and lean protein.
Medication for liver disease depends on which liver condition a patient has. For many conditions, medications do not serve as a “cure,” but rather as long-term treatment so that the liver disease is controlled and complications from chronic liver disease do not develop.
Thirteen physicians, a nurse practitioner, and a physician assistant are on staff at Northwest Gastroenterology Clinic, LLC. Each is dedicated to providing optimal treatment and care. Whether you want to learn more about liver disease and your treatment options or you wish to schedule an appointment, contact us for additional information.