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conditions of liver disease

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Updated: Wednesday, Jun 02,2010, 4:27:23 PM
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Diseases and conditions of liver disease

There are a number of diseases and conditions that can damage the liver, or result from damage to the liver. They include:

    * Viral hepatitis - Hepatitis is inflammation of the liver. Several different viruses are known to cause viral hepatitis. They are the hepatitis A, B, C, D, and E viruses. All of these viruses cause acute, or short-term, viral hepatitis. The hepatitis B, C, and D viruses can also cause chronic hepatitis, in which the infection is prolonged, sometimes lifelong.
          o Hepatitis A is spread primarily through food or water contaminated by feces from an infected person. Rarely, it spreads through contact with infected blood.
          o Hepatitis B can be spread through contact with infected blood, through sex with an infected person and from mother to child during childbirth.
          o Hepatitis C is spread primarily through contact with infected blood; less commonly, through sexual contact and childbirth.
          o Hepatitis D is spread through contact with infected blood. Anyone infected with hepatitis B is also at risk of hepatitis D, especially if they are injection drug users, or if they live with or have sex with a person infected with hepatitis D. Also at risk, are people who received a transfusion of blood or blood products before July 1992 or clotting factors made before 1987. Chronic hepatitis D can be treated with alpha interferon. Preventive measures include avoiding exposure to infected blood, contaminated needles, and an infected person's personal items.
          o Hepatitis E is spread through food or water contaminated by feces from an infected person. this disease is uncommon in the United States. International travelers are most at risk. Preventive measures include avoiding tap water when traveling internationally and practicing good hygiene and sanitation. Hepatitis E can resolve on its own over several weeks to months.
          o Non A-E hepatitis is the term used for cases of viral hepatitis cannot be attributed to the hepatitis A, B, C, D, or E viruses.
    * Toxic hepatitis and drug-induced hepatitis - Toxic hepatitis can result when the liver is exposed to toxins, such as certain poisons, chemical or drugs. For example, misuse or chronic use of acetaminophen can cause toxic hepatitis. Chronic use of certain medications or herbs can damage the liver. Industrial chemicals, dry cleaning solvents and some poisonous mushrooms can also lead to this condition. The damage may result from a single exposure, or it may develop after repeated exposure. In some cases, ingestion of the toxin may have been accidental, such as a child taking medication from a bottle. In many cases, the symptoms of toxic hepatitis will resolve when exposure to the toxin stops. Many people will recover once exposure to the contributing toxin is stopped. But sometimes, the damage is permanent and a liver transplant is the only option.
    * Autoimmune hepatitis - Autoimmune hepatitis is a disease in which the body's immune system attacks liver cells. This causes the liver to become inflamed (hepatitis). It can affect anyone, although women between the ages of 15 and 40 are affected most often. A genetic factor may be involved. It's usually chronic, meaning it can last for years, and can lead to cirrhosis (scarring and hardening) of the liver and eventually liver failure. Type I occurs at any age, often in people with other autoimmune disorders, such as type 1 diabetes, Sjögren's syndrome or ulcerative colitis. Type II autoimmune hepatitis typically affects girls ages 2 to 14, although adults can have it too. With proper treatment, autoimmune hepatitis can usually be controlled. The primary treatment is medicine to suppress (slow down) an overactive immune system. that in about 7 out of 10 people, the disease goes into remission, with a lessening of severity of symptoms, within 2 years of starting treatment. Some people in remission will see the disease return within 3 years. Treatment may be necessary, on and off, for years if not for life.
    * Cirrhosis - Cirrhosis is a progressive disease of the liver. In cirrhosis, scar tissue replaces normal, healthy liver tissue and blocks the flow of blood through the organ.
    * Jaundice - Jaundice is a symptom of other problems. Jaundice is caused by the orange-yellow pigment called bilirubin. It is formed when red blood cells break down. The liver extracts it from the blood and then puts it into the bile. Most of the time bilirubin leaves the body in the stool. Problems with the liver can result in bilirubin not being filtered out of the blood, resulting in jaundice. Likewise, a backup of bile can result in bilirubin not being flushed out of the body. Jaundice is quite common in newborns. most of the time it clears up on its own, but it can be a problem specifically for babies born before full-term.
    * Nonalcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH) - Nonalcoholic steatohepatitis or NASH is a common, often "silent" liver disease. It resembles alcoholic liver disease, but occurs in people who drink little or no alcohol. The major feature in NASH is fat in the liver, along with inflammation and damage. Most people with NASH feel well and are not aware that they have a liver problem. Nevertheless, NASH can be severe and can lead to cirrhosis, in which the liver is permanently damaged and scarred and no longer able to work properly.
    * Fatty liver or nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) - You can also have fat in the liver without inflammation or liver damage, a condition called "fatty liver." This problem is called nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD). both NASH and NAFLD are becoming more common, possibly because of the greater number of Americans with obesity. Obesity also contributes to diabetes and high blood cholesterol, which can further complicate the health of someone with NASH. Diabetes and high blood cholesterol are also becoming more common among Americans. the most important recommendations given to people with this disease are to lose weight or maintain a healthy weight, eat a healthy diet, exercise and avoid alcohol and unnecessary medication.

    * Cancer - Liver cancer is relatively rare in the United States. There are different types, including hepatocellular, cholangiocarcinoma, angiosarcoma and hepatoblastoma.

    * Cysts - A cyst is a fluid-filled sac. It is not cancer. Many liver cysts cause no symptoms and need no treatment. Liver cysts usually grow slowly. But if they get large, they can cause pain and require drainage or removal. A cyst may also need to be removed if it can prevent bile from reaching the intestine. There is also a rare condition called polycystic liver disease, which is often associated with polycystic kidney disease.

    * Hemochromatosis - Hemochromatosis is a hereditary disease, in which excess iron is stored in the pancreas, liver and skin.

    * Alpha-1 antitrypsin deficiency (AAT) -  this is the most common genetic cause of liver disease in children, but it may also appear in late childhood or adulthood. It is caused by the lack of a liver protein that blocks the destructive effects of certain enzymes. Symptoms in newborns include jaundice, swelling of the abdomen and poor feeding. Symptoms in adults include fatigue, poor appetite, swelling of the abdomen and legs or abnormal liver tests. It can lead to cirrhosis.

    * Bleeding disorders - bleeding disorders can sometimes be caused by liver disease. The liver produces proteins (or factors) that help blood coagulate. Liver disease may cause a deficiency of these blood factors, and thus may increase the risk of bleeding disorders in some people.

    * Gallstones - ALF calls gallstones a liver disease, and having liver disease can increase your risk of developing gallstones. Gallstones can block the bile ducts and cause a backup of bile into the body, resulting in jaundice.

    * Gilbert syndrome - Gilbert syndrome is a common, generally mild liver disorder. In Gilbert syndrome, the liver doesn't process bilirubin correctly. Bilirubin is produced by the breakdown of red blood cells. Gilbert syndrome is often discovered during a routine blood test, and usually doesn't require treatment. There are usually no symptoms other than the blood test results. If there are any symptoms, the most common is mild jaundice.


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