An organ about the size of a football, the liver is located on the right side of your belly, just behind your rib cage. Most people know the basic function of the liver: digesting food and ridding the body of toxic substances. The liver also develops bile, regulates blood coagulation, produces amino acids, and helps to absorb and store iron for red blood cell production. Liver disease, also known as hepatic disease, pertains to many diseases that may affect the liver and its function. When this vital organ becomes diseased, the results can be fatal.
Liver disease has multiple contributing factors, including but not limited to:
It is important to note that liver disease does not always present with symptoms, but when they do occur they may include:
If you are experiencing any of the above, see your primary care physician. You should seek immediate medical help if you are experiencing severe abdominal pain.
After a standard physical examination, your physician may utilize the following diagnostic exams to accurately diagnose if you have some degree of liver disease:
Liver disease treatment varies depending on how diseased the organ is. Non-genetic, mild cases can often see improvement through lifestyle changes, such as reducing or eliminating alcohol consumption or losing weight. Severe cases may require surgery to remove the diseased sections of the liver, and medication may be prescribed to manage side effects. A liver transplant is required in extreme cases if liver failure has begun.
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