As the air temperature starts to cool and your thoughts turn toward pumpkin spice, it is also critical to focus our attention on our health, including one of the most important and integral portions of the body – the liver. The liver is responsible for facilitating digestion, transforming food into energy, and filtering out toxic particles from our bodies to help us remain in good health.
As a whole, the liver is a vital organ that is responsible for a number of tasks to help us enjoy a healthy life. October is designated as Liver Disease Awareness Month. This month is an important reminder that it is vital to pay attention to our liver health and ask questions like: “How can I elevate my liver function?” or “How can I tell if I have liver disease?” The GI specialists at Austin Gastroenterology are here to address these questions and more and can assist you in receiving personalized care for your health. Keep reading as our Austin, TX team offers further information regarding health concerns that affect the liver.
What are the various forms of liver disease?
The term “liver disease” relates to conditions that bring inflammation or damage to the liver. Liver disease is not any one particular “condition” but rather an umbrella term to reference the list of conditions that may interfere with liver health. The causes of the different types of liver conditions may also vary. Some liver conditions occur from excessive alcohol intake or infections such as viruses, while others ay be caused by excess bilirubin present in the liver. Liver disease consists of several conditions including:
- Bile duct diseases – These diseases cause blockage in the bile ducts and impede the proper flow of bile. Bile duct diseases can involve:
- Inflammation (this leads to scarring and can cause liver failure)
- Birth defects (like biliary atresia)
- Jaundice – An excess of bilirubin in the liver causes the white areas of the eyes and the skin to take on a yellowish hue.
- Fatty liver disease – A condition that occurs when fat has built up inside the liver. This can result in cirrhosis.
- Cirrhosis of the liver – Healthy areas of liver tissue are overtaken by scar tissue, resulting in decreased function.
- Hepatitis – This involves inflammation of the liver.
Due to the varying differences among the conditions mentioned here, it is best to partner with a local GI doctor to ascertain the reason behind your liver concerns so that a personalized treatment strategy can be designed to help improve your health.
What are common signs of liver disease?
Even though varying liver conditions can have different causes, a number of liver disease symptoms are often the same. It is essential to consult a digestive specialist at Austin Gastroenterology, so a diagnosis and treatment approach can be provided. Signs and symptoms of liver disease involve:
- Dark urine
- Itchy skin (pruritus)
- Abdominal swelling and pain
- Depressed appetite
- Yellowish color to the skin and whites of the eyes (jaundice)
If you have one or more of these symptoms listed here, get in touch with one of our gastrointestinal specialists in Austin, TX to request a consultation.
How can I boost my liver function?
When seeking care from a gastrointestinal doctor for diseases affecting the liver, you will likely receive personalized information on what steps to take to address your unique needs. However, there are some helpful recommendations that everyone should follow to improve their liver health and function. These tips include:
- Follow a well-balanced diet
- Drink plenty of water
- Avoid or limit alcohol
- Consume foods rich in fiber
- Avoid foods with high levels of fat, salt, and sugar
Get treatment for liver disease in Austin, TX
With about 1 out of 10 Americans impacted by some variation of liver disease, you or a loved one may need help identifying treatment solutions available for liver concerns. This October, for Liver Disease Awareness Month, we invite you to contact Austin Gastroenterology to request an appointment to find out further details on how our providers can address your liver condition or what you can do to help avoid it. For individuals already having signs or symptoms of liver disease, our Austin, TX GI doctors can review any concerns, determine a diagnosis, and formulate an ideal treatment plan to suit your personal health requirements.