Gastroenterologist with patient

Liver Disease

About Liver Disease

With multiple functions, your liver is one of the most important organs in your body. Among other functions, your liver is responsible for cleaning your blood of toxins, gives you energy, and produces bile for proper digestion. Unfortunately, approximately 5.5 million Americans are currently living with chronic liver disease or cirrhosis (scarring of the liver caused by long-term damage), which can lead to liver failure, which is life-threatening.

There are numerous types of liver disease. Some forms of liver disease are caused by viruses, while others can be caused by substance abuse or poison. There are event some inherited/genetic liver diseases, as well as liver cancer.


In some cases, there are no symptoms of the disease; however, imaging tests and liver function tests can assess liver damage and help to diagnose a specific liver disease. When there are symptoms, they can vary, but often include:

  • Swelling of the abdomen and legs
  • Abdominal tenderness
  • Bruising easily
  • Changes in the color of stool and urine
  • Continuously-irritated skin
  • Unexplained and persistent vomiting (no presence of any stomach or intestinal tract issues)
  • Jaundice (yellowing of the skin and eyes)
  • Significant changes in appetite resulting in dramatic, rapid weight loss
  • Fluid retention in the legs, ankles, and feet
  • Chronic fatigue, muscle and mental weakness, memory loss, and confusion

Risk Factors

Common causes of liver disease are chronic alcohol abuse, and the accumulation of fat in the liver (nonalcoholic fatty liver disease). Other factors that will increase your risk of developing liver disease include:

  • Heavy alcohol use
  • Injecting drugs using shared needles
  • Tattoos or body piercings
  • Having received a blood transfusion prior to 1992
  • Exposure to other people’s blood and body fluids
  • Unprotected sex
  • Exposure to certain chemicals or toxins
  • Diabetes
  • Obesity
  • High levels of triglycerides in your blood

Types of Liver Disease

  • Acute fatty liver of pregnancy
  • Acute liver failure
  • Alcoholic liver disease
  • Alpha 1-antitrypsin deficiency
  • Alveolar hydatid disease
  • Bacillary peliosis
  • Budd–Chiari syndrome
  • Liver cancer
  • Chronic liver disease
  • Cirrhosis
  • Congenital hepatic fibrosis
  • Congestive hepatopathy
  • Epithelial–mesenchymal transition
  • Fatty liver
  • Fibrolamellar hepatocellular carcinoma
  • Focal fatty liver
  • Gastric antral vascular ectasia
  • Hepatic encephalopathy
  • Hepatitis A, B, C, D
  • Hepatolithiasis
  • Hepatopulmonary syndrome
  • Hepatorenal syndrome
  • Hepatosplenomegaly
  • Hepatotoxicity
  • Hy’s law
  • Laennec’s cirrhosis
  • Liver abscess
  • Liver failure
  • Lyngstadaas syndrome
  • Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease
  • Non-cirrhotic portal fibrosis
  • Pediatric end-stage liver disease
  • Peliosis hepatis
  • Polycystic liver disease
  • Primary biliary cholangitis
  • Progressive familial intrahepatic cholestasis
  • Steatohepatitis
  • Viral hepatitis
  • Wilson’s disease
  • Zahn infarct
  • Zieve’s syndrome

Liver Disease

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