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Liver Diseases

Read on to know more about the common liver diseases like Hepatitis A, Hepatitis B, Yellow Fever and Fatty Liver disease...
Liver is the largest organ in the body. It is also one of the most important organs as it performs many vital functions like changing food to energy and also removing any forms of poison and alcohol from the blood. The liver also produces bile which helps with the digestion of food.

Liver can become infected and cause a large number of diseases specially when infected by viruses like hepatitis A, hepatitis B and hepatitis C. Some diseases may also be a result of drugs, poisons or excessive use of alcohol. Cancer of the liver too is a possibility.

Liver Diseases

  • Hepatitis A: is an acute disease that is infectious in nature and is caused by the Hepatitis A virus. The most common root of the virus is infected food. The average incubation period of the disease is 28 days and the infection causes no permanent liver damage. The symptoms of the infection include fever, nausea, depression and jaundice. Once an individual is infected, the immune system makes antibodies against the virus. A vaccine is available that has been proved very effective in avoiding the outbreak of this infection across the world.
  • Hepatitis B: This virus infects the liver and causes inflammation which is known as hepatitis. This infection is transmitted by coming in contact with the infected blood or body fluids that contain blood. The symptoms of the infection include vomiting, liver inflammation, jaundice and in some cases, death. Chronic Hepatitis B can also lead to liver cirrhosis and liver cancer. Fortunately, Hepatitis B infection can be prevented via vaccination. Diagnosing the infection is rather difficult which is done via a test known as assays which is performed on serum and antibodies. The test is performed to detect the presence of viral antigens and antibodies. The infection usually does not require any form of treatment as in most cases the infection is cleared spontaneously. However, in some cases where the infection may take a aggressive turn, an antiviral treatment will be required.
  • Yellow Fever: This infection is also known as the American Plague and is an acute viral infection. Although a vaccine is available, yellow fever has been a source of some massive epidemics. This infection is caused by a virus of the Flaviviridae family and is positive single stranded RNA virus. The virus is commonly transferred to the humans by a mosquito virus. After an incubation phase of three to six days, the infection hits in two phases. The first acute phase is characterized by fever, muscle pain, shivers, vomiting and a slow pulse. The next phase known as the toxic phase hits within the next 24 hours. The patient rapidly develops jaundice which is accompanied with abdominal pain, vomiting and bleeding from mouth, nose, eyes and stomach. Fifty percent of the patients die within fourteen days while the other half recover with serious organ damages. Yellow fever is also very difficult to diagnose and is often confused with malaria and jaundice. A laboratory test is required to confirm the diagnosis. There is no cure for yellow fever and therefore vaccination is very important. However, the vaccines provide immunity only for a period of ten years so if you do visit or stay in places where there is a possibility that you may get infected then ensure that you get re-vaccinated regularly. The treatment is symptomatic and supportive in nature only.
  • Fatty Liver Disease: This disease is also known as the steatorrhoeic hepatosis. It is a reversible condition where large vacuoles of triglyceride fat accumulate in the liver cells via the process known as steatosis. Although there are many causes of this disease, the most common cause of this disease across the world is excessive alcohol intake and obesity. It is often difficult to diagnose alcoholic fatty liver disease from non-alcoholic fatty liver disease as morphologically both forms of diseases show micro-vesicular and macro-vesicular fatty changes at different stages. The treatment of this disease will depend on what is causing the disease and usually treating the underlying cause reverses the process of steatosis if implemented at the early stages.
By Ranjan Shandilya
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