Honoring Liver Disease Awareness Month This October
As the air begins to cool and we anticipate the excitement of autumn, it is also significant to cast our attention to our health, which includes one of the most essential and hardest working portions of our bodies— the liver. This organ is in charge of facilitating the digestive process, transforming food into energy, and filtering harmful materials from our systems to help us stay in good health.
By and large, the liver is an essential organ that conducts numerous tasks to help us enjoy ideal health. October is dedicated to Liver Disease Awareness. This month serves as a reminder that it is vital to monitor our liver health and ask important questions such as: "How can I determine if I'm at risk for liver disease?" or "How can I help improve my liver health?" The gastrointestinal specialists at Colorado Gastroenterology are here to address these questions and can assist you in getting the best care possible for a healthy liver. Continue reading as our Denver, CO team explains helpful details about conditions that affect the health of the liver.
Are there different forms of liver disease?
Liver disease refers to health issues that bring damage or inflammation to the organ. Liver disease is not a singular "condition" per se but an umbrella name referring to a group of conditions that can interfere with liver health. The reasons behind the different forms of liver problems may also vary. Some liver conditions arise from excessive alcohol consumption or infections such as a virus. Others might be caused by an overabundance of bilirubin in the liver. Liver disease is comprised of a variety of conditions, such as:
- Hepatitis – This condition involves liver inflammation.
- Bile duct diseases – These conditions cause a blockage within the bile ducts and inhibit the flow of bile. Bile duct diseases may include:
- Birth defects (such as biliary atresia)
- Inflammation (which leads to scarring and can cause liver failure)
- Fatty liver disease – A condition that occurs when fat has built up inside your liver. Fatty liver disease may cause cirrhosis.
- Cirrhosis – Healthy liver tissue is replaced with scar tissue, leading to diminished functioning.
- Jaundice – Excess bilirubin in the liver causes the whites of the eyes along with the skin to have a yellow hue.
Since there is a range of differences among these diseases, it is best to talk with an experienced GI specialist to identify the factor(s) underlying your liver concerns. A proper treatment protocol can then be developed to help improve your health.
What are the common signs and symptoms of liver disease?
While varying liver conditions can stem from different causes, several signs and symptoms of liver disease are often the same. It is important to be diagnosed by a GI doctor at Colorado Gastroenterology, so a proper diagnosis and treatment plan can be provided. Common signs of liver disease include:
- Itchy skin (pruritus)
- Abdominal swelling and discomfort
- Decreased appetite
- Yellowing of the skin and white areas of the eyes (jaundice)
- Dark-colored urine
If you experience any of these signs or symptoms, contact one of our gastroenterologists in Denver, CO to arrange for a visit.
What can I do to boost my liver function?
If you are under the care of a GI specialist for diseases affecting the liver, you will most likely be given individualized instructions on how you can address your specific concerns. There are, however, recommendations that all individuals should follow to improve their liver function and health. These are:
- Follow a well-balanced diet.
- Consume plenty of water.
- Limit or avoid the consumption of alcoholic drinks.
- Eat foods high in fiber.
- Avoid foods with high levels of sugar, fat, and salt.
Get liver disease treatment in Denver, CO
Given that about 1 out of every 10 Americans is impacted by some form of liver disease, you or a member of your family may find yourself in need of care for a liver condition. During October, Liver Disease Awareness Month, we encourage you to contact Colorado Gastroenterology to set up a consultation and discover how our providers treat liver disease or the path you can take to help guard against it. For those already experiencing signs or symptoms of liver disease, our Denver, CO gastroenterologists can review any concerns, determine a diagnosis, and curate an ideal treatment plan to improve your liver health.