Creating Awareness of PBC Throughout the Month of September
As a vital organ in the body, the liver conducts several tasks crucial for digestive health, including separating toxic substances from the blood, storing nutrients, and regulating glucose levels. Within the liver, a collection of slender ducts (referred to as bile ducts) carry the digestive fluid bile to the small intestine to aid in the digestion of food. When these ducts become blocked or deteriorate, it negatively impacts the functional abilities of the liver. A type of health issue that can harm the bile ducts is a chronic disease known as primary biliary cholangitis (PBC).
In honor of September being PBC Awareness Month, we seek to educate individuals in our community about this concerning liver condition. The majority of people who have PBC are females between 40 – 60 years of age; however, men and women under 40 could also develop the disorder. Untreated, the disease may end up causing liver failure and create the need for a liver transplant.
The early detection of the condition is crucial to the best possible disease prognosis. A GI specialist can diagnose PBC and offer treatment methods to help stall the advancement of the disease. If you or a loved one has primary biliary cholangitis, partner with Texas Digestive Disease Consultants for specialized care. Our DFW gastrointestinal specialists can offer expert treatment and help you manage your liver health.
What you should know about primary biliary cholangitis
Primary biliary cholangitis is a rare autoimmune issue where an individual's overactive immune mechanism assaults healthy bile ducts. When this happens, it creates swelling that little by little damages the bile ducts. If bile is prevented from moving into the small bowel, it accumulates in the liver and results in organ damage. PBC was previously called primary biliary cirrhosis, but the name was changed to separate it from alcohol and drug-related liver diseases. Though the exact causes of primary biliary cholangitis remain undetermined, experts think a person's immune response could be triggered by environmental or genetic elements.
Recognize the symptoms of PBC
Amidst the early course of the disease, PBC might generate no outward symptoms, which is why it is essential to schedule regular blood work to measure liver function. Those who do experience symptoms of primary biliary cholangitis might present with:
- Dry eyes
- Dry mouth (xerostomia)
- Itching (pruritus)
As the liver disorder worsens, the damage the liver can cause cirrhosis, which is where scar tissue accumulates in the liver and impacts its ability to function as normal. The indications of advanced damage to the liver include:
Xanthomas or lesions on the skin containing fat and cholesterol
Edema or swollen ankles and feet
Yellowing of the skin (jaundice)
Discomfort in the abdomen
In the event you or a family member notice any of the above signs or symptoms, please seek medical treatment as early as possible. You can talk with a gastrointestinal specialist near you by reaching out to Texas Digestive Disease Consultants. Our team members offer treatment to patients in the DFW area who are experiencing primary biliary cholangitis and other forms of liver problems.
How is primary biliary cholangitis identified?
A digestive health specialist can evaluate for PBC by testing for specific substances in the blood that convey information about liver function. Greater levels of the enzyme alkaline phosphatase (ALP) and having antimitochondrial antibodies (AMAs) in the blood may signal the presence of primary biliary cholangitis. Diagnostic imaging procedures could also be ordered to assess the liver and the bile ducts to screen for evidence of deterioration. These tests could help rule out or dismiss other forms of liver dysfunction. In cases where the exact condition remains uncertain, a biopsy of liver tissue could be conducted. Throughout the course of a biopsy procedure, a small sample of liver tissue is collected and forwarded to a laboratory to be assessed under a microscope by a pathologist.
Are there treatment options for PBC?
Even though there is no known cure for primary biliary cholangitis, there are specific medications that might help stall the progression of the problem. Ursodiol, a naturally occurring bile acid, is frequently utilized to assist bile in flowing out of the liver to the small bowel. When utilized in the early stages of the disease, ursodiol might enhance the liver's ability to function and delay liver transplant needs. Taking medication may also help manage and treat the side effects of PBC, such as high cholesterol, pruritis, and dry eyes.
Get treatment for primary biliary cholangitis in DFW
Should you or someone you love have primary biliary cholangitis, know that experienced help can be received at Texas Digestive Disease Consultants. With an expert team of GI doctors, Texas Digestive Disease Consultants provides innovative procedures and forward-thinking research into GI health problems, like PBC. Get in touch with one of our practice locations in the DFW area today to discover more about PBC and your treatment options.