Scripps Health: Liver Disease Symptoms, Causes and Treatment


– Liver disease is anything that causes irritation or
inflammation in the liver that then can result in scar
tissue formation in the liver. As more and more scar
tissue forms in the liver, then you can develop cirrhosis which basically means end-stage
scar tissue in the liver where the liver now is no
longer smooth and nice and red. It’s sort of lumpy,
bumpy, and gravely almost that then prevents it
from functioning properly. There are many causes of liver disease. We all think of alcohol as the cause but that’s only one of
a multitude of causes and it’s not even the most common cause. There are viruses called
hepatitis or Hepatitis B, Hepatitis C that causes liver disease and then probably the most
common liver disease right now is fatty liver, where
patients can actually get fat in the liver that then
can result in irritation and inflammation and then
scar tissue development. I always think of the liver as being a very forgiving organ and the problem with that is that people don’t often get symptoms until the liver is very advanced. Once people have more
advanced liver disease, then they can develop symptoms like yellow eyes or yellow skin. They can develop swelling in their legs or swelling and fluid
buildup in their abdomen that’s called ascites fluid. They also can have toxins
build up in their body that can actually get into their brain and make them confused
or forgetful or shaky as some of the advanced symptoms. Treating liver disease really centers on treating whatever it is
that’s irritating the liver. For instance, if someone has Hepatitis C, we wanna treat Hepatitis C. If someone drinks alcohol, we want them to stop drinking alcohol, so whatever the cause
of the liver disease is, we first attack the cause, which then will allow the
liver to start to heal itself because the liver can be
a very forgiving organ and actually repair some
of the damage that’s done. If the liver gets too much damage with the cirrhosis and lumpy
bumpy scar tissue in the liver, then it can get to a point where it no longer is going to heal itself and at that point, we may need to think
about a liver transplant or replacing the liver with a healthy one.