The liver is the largest organ of the body and sits to the right side of the abdomen. The liver provides several key functions for the body including making important proteins for our immune system as well as important vitamins and minerals. The most important function that the liver provides is breaking down alcohol and other drugs and toxins. The vast majority of liver problems are related to:
- Fatty liver disease
- Viral hepatitis
The liver has a remarkable capacity to regenerate new tissue when diseased. Unfortunately, in most circumstances the liver only gives rise to symptoms with advanced disease processes which means that treatment becomes immediately critical.
Individuals suffering with liver disease may have developed other, secondary health problems. Our specialist consultant gastroenterologists and consultant hepatologists are experts in identifying trends of certain diseases caused by liver disease within the examination. An initial appointment will also identify any lifestyle factors which may predispose individuals to developing liver problems including diet and alcohol intake.
Diagnostic tests which our consultants may request to confirm liver disease include:
- Liver function tests (blood tests)
- Ultrasound or MRI imaging
- ECRP procedure
- Liver biopsy
Depending on the underlying cause of the liver disease and the results of the diagnostics tests several treatment options exist.
Addressing underlying lifestyle factors is always paramount for successful treatment. Significantly limiting or abstaining from alcohol intake is recommended. If fatty liver disease is present then dietary changes to lose weight may be recommended.
In more advanced stages of liver disease patients may suffer with weight loss, fatigue and weakness. This may be due to the inadequate ability of the liver to synthesise and release glucose and proteins and under these circumstances some form of nutritional support may be advised. Circle Health consultants work closely with our dieticians to provide our clients with advice regarding high-protein diets and any dietary supplements.
The various causes and processes involved in liver disease means that pharmacological management can be varied. Anti-cholesterol medication and/ or anti-hypertensive medications may be prescribed to improve the vascular status of the vessels supplying the liver. In cases of viral hepatitis anti-virals may be prescribed.
In rare cases, where liver function has become dangerously impaired and a combination of lifestyle changes and pharmacological managements have failed, patients may be advised to consider a liver transplant operation. This procedure will be considered only where individuals have been able to demonstrate sufficient lifestyle changes over the preceding months.