Liver disease affects millions of patients the world over. The estimated presence of liver cirrhosis in the general population ranges between 4.5% to 9% and approximately 50 million people are affected by chronic liver disease.
Globally, alcohol, fatty liver and viral hepatitis are the commonest causes for liver failure. Many patients with cirrhosis do not have any symptoms and therefore there is a gross underestimation of the
patients who suffer from Liver Disease.
Deaths Due to Liver Disease
The number of deaths due to liver disease is increasing rapidly. Over 770,000 deaths have been recorded due to liver disease in 2001 and it was noted to be the 14th most probable cause of death worldwide.
The burden of disease is especially high in South East Asia and the Middle East. These are regions with a high prevalence of Viral Hepatitis.
What are the Major Causes of Liver Disease and Cirrhosis?
The major causes of liver disease affecting the population in India and the middle east are
- Alcoholic Liver disease
- Hepatitis B
- Hepatitis C
An increasing number of people are being diagnosed with Fatty liver disease, especially Non-Alcoholic Fatty Liver disease (NAFLD)
What is Fatty Liver disease?
It is increasingly being noted in many individuals and in most instances it is diagnosed following a routine Ultrasound Scan of the the Abdomen. Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) is the build up of extra fat in liver cells that is not caused by alcohol. It is normal for the liver to contain some fat. However, if more than 5% – 10% percent of the liver’s weight is fat, then it is called a fatty liver (steatosis).
Who is affected by Fatty liver disease?
NAFLD tends to develop in people who are overweight or obese or have diabetes, high cholesterol or high triglycerides. Rapid weight loss and poor eating habits also may lead to NAFLD.
The Indian and South Asian population is especially prone to developing fatty liver disease.
What are the risks of fatty liver disease?
NAFLD may cause the liver to swell (steatohepatitis). A swollen liver may cause scarring (cirrhosis) over time and may even lead to liver cancer or liver failure.
Symptoms of Fatty liver disease?
The disease is often without any perceivable symptoms. When symptoms do occur, the patient may present with
- Weight loss
- Loss of appetite
- Abdominal pain
- Spider-like blood vessels
- Yellowing of the skin and eyes (jaundice)
- Fluid build up and swelling of the legs (edema) and abdomen (ascites)
- Mental confusion
How is Fatty Liver disease diagnosed?
NAFLD is initially suspected if blood tests show high levels of liver enzymes.However, other liver diseases are first ruled out through additional tests. Often, an ultrasound is used to confirm the NAFLD diagnosis. A FIBROSCAN test is a good way to screen for Fatty Liver Disease and Cirrhosis.
Can fatty liver disease be treated?
Eating a healthy diet and exercising regularly may help prevent liver damage from starting or reverse it in the early stages.
- Talk to your doctor about ways to improve your liver health.
- Lose weight, if you are overweight or obese.
- Lower your cholesterol and triglycerides.
- Control your diabetes.
- Avoid alcohol.
How can I get help if I have been detected with fatty liver disease?
Get in touch with specialists at SIGMA Gastrocare and we will be glad to help you.
How does one detect Chronic Liver disease?
The commonest methods to detect liver disease are as follows.
- Blood tests including Liver function tests and tests for the coagulation profile
Testing the fluid from the abdomen in patients with Ascites (accumulation of fluid in the abdomen)
- Appropriate imaging of the abdomen which may include USG abdomen or CT scans
Treatment of Cirrhosis and Chronic Liver Disease
Once liver disease has been identified, it is important that the person sees his Gastroenterologist regularly and the condition is monitored appropriately. Treatment includes
- Vaccination against Hepatitis Virus
- Endoscopic treatment with banding of blood vessels which are likely to bleed
The prompt and aggressive management of the complications of cirrhosis is also important. Patients who present with bleeding varices (enlarged blood vessels), spontaneous bacterial peritonitis, hepatic encephalopathy and related complications require critical care management.
Read more about the – Functions of the liver
How we can help
Our doctors and surgeons at SIGMA Gastrocare are accomplished and certified to handle all aspects related to liver care. This includes initial diagnosis, management of the condition and advanced treatment. Do contact us to arrange a visit and speak to the experts.