Friday, 7 March 2014

Liver related disorders: Why screening is essential

An average of 35-40 people die every month from liver related disorders in our country. Contrary to the popular belief, even non-alcoholics can acquire deadly liver diseases. There are usually no early symptoms. Doctors say that in more than 90% cases, patients don’t realize that they have a liver disease until it’s late.

There is a major misconception about liver disease- It only affects alcoholics and drug users. Liver disease is not a disease specific to alcohol drinkers. There are more than 100 causes of liver disease. Liver problems can strike anyone, from infants to seniors. Liver disease can be hereditary, caused by toxic substances, viruses and bacteria or an unhealthy lifestyle.

In the early stage of liver disease, liver may become inflamed. However, unlike most other parts of our body that become hot and painful when inflamed, an inflamed liver may cause no discomfort at all. Liver inflammation can slowly worsen, causing scarring or fibrosis to appear. As fibrosis worsens, cirrhosis develops and the liver becomes seriously scarred, hardened and unable to function properly. By the time we experience symptoms such as jaundice, our liver would have been severely damaged.

Major diseases of the liver include autoimmune hepatitis, cirrhosis, cystic disease of the liver, fatty liver disease, gallstones, liver cancer, liver disease in pregnancy, neonatal hepatitis, toxic hepatitis, viral hepatitis A, B& C. Probability of majority of these diseases can be simply screened by performing a full panel liver function test, which indicates how healthy your liver is.

Doctors recommend comprehensive liver checkup once in every 6 months for a normal healthy individual. Liver tests are highly recommended in those with a history of liver disorder in family, people with some sort of life style diseases like diabetes & cholesterol, who lead sedentary life style, who are obese, those who consumes alcohol, under stress, under long term medication etc. Always remember- It’s an organ you could easily trash if you don’t take good care of it, and once you trash it, it’s gone.

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