What are the most common liver diseases?
Hepatology is a medical specialty dealing with liver and biliary tract diseases. Most liver diseases can remain asymptomatic for a long time, only the increase in so-called liver function laboratory values call attention to it. If it causes symptoms, it may initially be characterized by weakness, abdominal discomfort, loss of appetite, nausea, pain under right ribs. Advanced liver disease has the typical symptoms of jaundice, increase in abdominal circumference, appearance of star-shaped vasodilatation on the skin of the chest, reddening of the palm.
Because of the few symptoms, regular screening is very important, especially for those with family history of liver disease, working with chemicals or taking liver-damaging drugs.
What are the most common liver diseases?
- fatty liver (steatosis)
It is the most common disease of our time, the most common cause of liver cirrhosis today. The most common causes of non-alcoholic fatty liver are obesity and high blood fat levels, but they are also common in patients with normal body weight. Fat deposited in the liver can cause inflammation and subsequently can cause connective tissue remodelling, called cirrhosis.
Fatty liver is usually well visualized by abdominal ultrasound or MRI, but the Fibroscan / CAP test can give an accurate numerical value of the degree of fatty tissue and connective tissue remodelling.
- liver damage caused by toxic agents (alcohol, medicine, chemical)
In addition to regular alcohol consumption, many drugs can cause liver damage such as methotrexate, amiodarone, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs used in rheumatology, paracetamol etc. It is worth consulting your hepatologist in case of prolonged medication.
- virus-induced liver inflammation (hepatitis A, B, C, E)
Hepatitis A and E are mostly infect with infected oral food cause symptoms of acute liver inflammation or indigestion-like symptoms and usually occur spontaneously.
Hepatitis B and C are viruses transmitted by blood and sexually transmitted diseases. Typically, they can remain asymptomatic for up to 20 to 30 years, causing chronic liver inflammation, often only severe hepatic cirrhosis calls attention to them. We can protect ourselves against hepatitis B by vaccine, there is currently no vaccine available for hepatitis C. There are many effective drugs for hepatitis B and C that your hepatologist can prescribe.
Hepatitis B and C screening is recommended for those who have previously received blood, have tattoos, work in health care, or change their partners frequently.
Vaccination against hepatitis A and B should be discussed with your doctor if you are traveling abroad a lot or have a partner who carries hepatitis B.
- autoimmune liver diseases
Liver diseases in which the body makes antibodies against certain components of the liver, and these antibodies damage the liver cells through complex immune processes. They often come with symptoms of acute liver inflammation. They usually respond well to immunosuppressive or steroid therapy, however, therapy-resistant forms may occur which may require liver transplantation.
- benign and malignant tumours, cystic lesions of the liver
The liver can have many benign and malignant tumours, which can be primary and metastatic. Chronic viral infection and connective tissue remodelling of liver contribute to the development of primary tumours. Their diagnosis can often made by abdominal ultrasound, but often further imaging (CT, MR, PET CT) is required.
- liver cirrhosis of unknown origin
Sometimes the cause of severe liver damage (cirrhosis) is not found. This condition requires regular hepatological care due to the risk of decompensation and tumour formation.
- secondary liver diseases due to other diseases
Diabetes, heart failure, small bowel removal, thyroid dysfunction, celiac disease etc. often develop secondary liver disease. In addition to the treatment of the underlying disease, regular monitoring of liver disease is recommended.
- genetic liver diseases (Gilbert’s syndrome, Haemochromatosis, Wilson’s disease)
Family liver diseases showing aggregation. Gilbert’s syndrome is a benign disease with mild jaundice that usually does not require treatment. Haemochromatosis is a relatively rare genetic liver disease with iron metabolism disorder, Wilson’s disease with copper metabolism disorder. In addition to symptoms, genetic testing can lead to diagnosis.
- disorders of the liver’s vascular supply
The blood vessels in the liver may have thrombosis, blockage, which can cause acute abdominal symptoms. Diagnosis can be made by ultrasound and CT. Patients with an increased risk of thrombosis should take this into consideration when taking contraceptives.
- biliary tract diseases
Stones, inflammation of the gallbladder or bile duct may cause pain under the right ribs and deviation of the liver enzymes, possibly jaundice. Abdominal ultrasound is a basic examination in biliary tract disease. Often a surgical solution may be needed.
To make an appointment, call +36 1 225 0566.