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Liver Disease and Its Health Consequences

Liver disease refers to any problem that affects your liver and its proper functioning. The liver is one of the most important organs in the body performing multiple vital functions such as, but not limited to, digestion, metabolism, and detoxification. It’s been estimated that liver disease contributes to approximately two million deaths per year globally. Let’s discuss some of the most common liver diseases.

1. Fatty liver disease

Fatty liver disease arises from the build-up of fat in the liver. Fatty liver disease is categorized in two ways:

Nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD): NAFLD is a condition that occurs when fat accumulates in the liver, but is not due to alcohol consumption. Some people with NAFLD may develop NASH (nonalcoholic steatohepatitis), a condition characterized by inflammation of the liver. The latter may progress to fibrosis of the liver. A variety of factors increase your risk of NAFLD and NASH including high cholesterol and triglycerides, metabolic syndrome, obesity, sleep apnea, polycystic ovary syndrome, Type 2 diabetes, hypothyroidism, and hypopituitarism. NAFLD generally shows no obvious symptoms, but in some people, it can lead to fatigue and/or severe abdominal discomfort. NAFLD is reversible - losing weight through a combination of exercise and a healthy diet can eliminate NAFLD entirely.

Alcoholic fatty liver disease (AFLD): Alcoholic fatty liver disease results from consuming excessive amounts of alcohol. AFLD can lead to inflammation, and if left untreated, can eventually result in liver fibrosis and worse, liver failure.

2. Hepatitis

Hepatitis is characterized by inflammation of the liver which is due to virus infection. Hepatitis can damage the liver and disrupt its function. There are five types of hepatitis: Hepatitis A, B, C, D, and E. Hep A infection occurs through contact with contaminated water or food sources. Hep B occurs via exchange of bodily fluids such as semen and blood. Hep B is treatable but no cure. Hep C is spread through contact with contaminated blood. Hep D is a severe form of hepatitis, occurring only in individuals that are already afflicted with Hep B. Hep E arises through contaminated water sources.

Photo Designed by Irene Lee

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