Liver Disease Awareness Month: Learn the Signs and Symptoms
As the weather becomes cooler and we start dreaming of pumpkin spice, it is just as essential to turn our focus to our health, including one of the most essential and hardest working portions of our bodies — the liver. An essential organ, the liver is responsible for aiding in the digestive process, changing food into energy, and removing toxic materials from our system to help us remain healthy and well.
Overall, the liver is an important organ that conducts numerous functions so that we can maintain ideal health. During the month of October, we seek to raise liver disease awareness. It reminds us that it is essential to monitor the health of our liver and ask important questions such as: "How can I tell if I have liver disease?" or "What steps can I take to improve my liver health?" The GI specialists at Texas Digestive Disease Consultants are here to answer these questions and can help you access the care you need for a healthy liver. Read on as our DFW gastroenterology team provides further information about health issues that affect the liver.
Are there various forms of liver disease?
In general, liver disease involves conditions that cause inflammation or damage to the liver. Liver disease is not a single "condition" but rather a broad term used to refer to various conditions that can interfere with liver health. The causes behind the different forms of liver conditions can also vary. Certain liver conditions occur due to excessive alcohol consumption or infections like viruses. Others might be caused by an overabundance of bilirubin in the liver. Overall, liver disease involves a number of conditions, such as:
- Jaundice – An overabundance of bilirubin in the liver causes the whites of the eyes and the skin to take on a yellow color.
- Hepatitis – This condition involves liver inflammation.
- Bile duct diseases – These conditions block the bile ducts and prevent the proper flow of bile. Bile duct diseases may involve:
- Birth defects (like biliary atresia)
- Inflammation (which leads to scarring and can cause liver failure)
- Cirrhosis of the liver – Healthy liver tissue is replaced with scar tissue, leading to decreased functioning.
- Fatty liver disease – A condition that occurs when a buildup of fat accumulates within a patient's liver. Fatty liver disease can cause cirrhosis of the liver.
Since there is a range of differences among the conditions mentioned here, it is advised to speak with a skilled gastroenterologist to identify the cause of your liver concerns so that the right treatment strategy can be developed for your needs.
What are common signs of liver disease?
While varying liver conditions can stem from different causes, many liver disease signs and symptoms are commonly the same. It is imperative to be evaluated by a gastroenterologist at Texas Digestive Disease Consultants, so a proper diagnosis and treatment strategy can be provided. Some signs and symptoms of liver disease include:
- Dark urine
- Depressed appetite
- Yellowing of the skin and white areas of the eyes (jaundice)
- Itchy skin (pruritus)
- Abdominal discomfort and swelling
Should you experience one or more of these signs or symptoms, reach out to our team of gastrointestinal doctors in DFW to arrange for a visit.
What can I do to elevate my liver function?
If you are under the care of a GI doctor for liver disease, you may be given specific instructions regarding your individual needs. There are, however, a few recommendations that every individual should consider to improve their liver function and health. These are:
- Consume foods rich in fiber.
- Avoid or limit alcohol consumption.
- Consume adequate amounts of water.
- Stick to a well-balanced diet.
- Avoid foods with high levels of fat, sugar, and salt.
Find liver disease treatment in DFW
Given that approximately 1 out of every 10 Americans is impacted by some form of liver disease, you or a loved one might need help exploring the treatment options available for liver disease. In honor of October being Liver Disease Awareness Month, we invite you to schedule a consultation at Texas Digestive Disease Consultants to learn how our physicians can treat your liver issue or what you can do to help prevent this disease. For patients already noticing symptoms of liver disease, our DFW gastrointestinal doctors can listen to your concerns, determine a diagnosis, and formulate an individualized treatment plan to help improve your liver health.