Spotting the Warning Signs of Liver Disease

Your liver is an essential organ that helps your body digest food, use nutrients, and clear your system of toxins. Disease caused by genetics, viruses, alcohol use, and obesity threatens the health of this football-sized organ.

When left untreated, liver disease leads to cirrhosis and possible liver failure or cancer. With the help of Hardeep M. Singh, MD, however, you can spot the earliest signs of liver disease and get treatment right away to manage your condition.

What puts me at risk for liver disease?

Certain people are at greater risk of liver disease. If you heavily use alcohol, inject drugs with shared needles, or have tattoos or body piercings, you have a higher chance of developing liver disease compared to the average person.

Anyone who had a blood transfusion prior to 1992, engaged in unprotected sex, or has exposure to other people’s blood and bodily fluids — such as health care workers — could acquire a hepatitis strain that causes liver disease.

Viruses that cause liver damage — as well as parasites — spread through bodily fluids, contaminated water or food, and even close proximity to someone with the infection. Hepatitis strains A, B, and C are the most common causes.

Diabetes, obesity, and exposure to certain chemicals or toxins are other risk factors that mean you should be aware of the signs of liver disease. Autoimmune diseases or an abnormal gene inherited from one or both of your parents are also possible causes of liver disease.

What are the warning signs?

The signs of liver disease range from subtle to serious. They include a loss of appetite, nausea or vomiting, and abdominal pain and swelling. Watch for a yellowish tone to your skin or eyes (jaundice) or swelling in your legs and ankles.

Pale stool, bloody stool, or tar-colored stool signal something is possibly going on with your liver. Darkly colored urine is also a warning sign.

If you experience extreme, chronic fatigue or a tendency to bruise easily, it’s a good idea to get a full workup from Dr. Singh to rule out liver disease or other conditions.

Does all liver disease have symptoms?

Fatty liver disease is diagnosed from elevated liver enzymes found in bloodwork or through observation of fatty liver on an imaging test. Usually, you don’t notice symptoms until serious scarring — or cirrhosis — has occurred. Dr. Singh may order a biopsy to confirm diagnosis and to determine the degree of liver damage.

Even in the early stages, cirrhosis often doesn’t cause any signs or symptoms. With progression of the condition, however, you may become jaundiced and you may experience fluid retention, thin blood and bleeding, enlarged veins in your stomach and esophagus that rupture and bleed, and confusion and sleep disturbances.

At the office of Hardeep Singh, MD, we take liver disease seriously and offer a variety of treatments, depending on its stage and type. Sometimes, simple lifestyle changes, such as halting use of alcohol or losing weight helps. Dr. Singh manages your liver function and offers medications if necessary. Severe cases of liver disease that may result in liver failure might require a transplant.

If you notice any symptoms that suggest something is wrong with your liver, don’t hesitate to contact one of our offices in the Orange or Irvine, California, areas. We also schedule one-on-one consultations using this website.

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