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Common diseases of the liver
The liver is very resilient and can still do its job even if it is partially damaged. It can also repair damage very well as long as it is not too severe. However, if liver damage is detected too late, it cannot be reversed. The liver itself does not contain any nerves, tenderness under the right costal arch or epigastric cramps as a result of liver diseases rather result from tension in the connective tissue capsule that surrounds the liver. Typical side effects of liver disease are tiredness and a drop in performance. That is why doctors also refer to "tiredness as the pain of the liver". In addition, people with liver disease often suffer from impaired blood clotting, as their liver no longer produces the necessary proteins.
A blood test is an important tool for diagnosing liver diseases. When the liver is damaged, typical proteins enter the blood from the cells. Elevated liver values therefore give the doctor valuable information on the type and extent of the disease.
- Primary biliary cirrhosis
- Primary sclerosing cholangitis
- Cirrhosis of the liver
- Damage from alcohol
- Acute liver failure
- Alveolar echinococcosis
- Cystic echinococcosis
In jaundice (jaundice), the skin, mucous membranes and the dermis of the eyes turn yellow. The yellow color is caused by the build up of bilirubin in the tissues. Jaundice is not a disease, but a symptom that can occur when an excessive number of red blood cells break down, liver function is destroyed, or the outflow of bile is blocked by gallstones.
Jaundice can have many causes, often it occurs in diseases of the liver, the bile ducts or the pancreas, e.g. B. in the case of inflammation of the liver (e.g. hepatitis A, B or C), cirrhosis of the liver, disorders of biliary outflow caused by bile duct stones or a malignant tumor of the pancreas (pancreatic carcinoma). The yellowing of the skin, mucous membranes, and dermis of the eyes decreases when the cause of the jaundice is treated.
Hepatitis is inflammation of the liver. The causes of inflammation are manifold: Viruses, bacteria, parasites or fungi, alcohol and other toxins, medication, congenital disorders, radiation therapy, inflammation of the biliary tract, etc. A distinction is made between acute and chronic hepatitis. What symptoms the hepatitis causes, how the disease progresses and how it is treated depends on the underlying cause. Typical symptoms of hepatitis are jaundice, tiredness and sometimes itching.
Primary biliary cirrhosis (PBC "primary non-purulent destructive cholangitis")
Primary biliary cirrhosis is a chronic inflammation of the biliary tract (cholangitis). The reason for this is unknown. Over 90% of the patients are women, mostly they are older than 40 years. In the beginning there are few complaints, later itching, tiredness, loss of performance and digestive disorders occur. The disease cannot be cured; only its symptoms can be treated with medication.
Primary sclerosing cholangitis
Primary sclerosing cholangitis is inflammation of the middle and larger biliary tract with an unknown cause. Up to 60% of patients suffer from ulcerative colitis at the same time. The patients experience itching and upper abdominal discomfort. Later on, you may experience weight loss or jaundice. The disease cannot be cured and the symptoms (e.g. itching) are treated with medication. Bile duct cancer can be the long-term consequence.
Cirrhosis of the liver
Cirrhosis of the liver is the end stage of many chronic liver diseases. Most often, cirrhosis of the liver is caused by constant excessive consumption of alcohol or viruses associated with inflammation of the liver (hepatitis). In cirrhosis, the normal glandular tissue of the liver is remodeled: nodes form and the glandular tissue is replaced by connective tissue. The sinusoids and small vessels can therefore no longer transport blood away. However, since blood continues to flow into the liver through the hepatic artery and portal vein, it backs up in front of the liver. This increases the pressure in the blood vessels, especially in the portal vein (portal high pressure or portal hypertension). In addition, "advanced" cirrhosis of the liver can lead to jaundice.
Sometimes new blood vessels form and the blood from the portal vein is "bypassed" bypassing the liver to the heart. Then the blood cannot be detoxified and the liver does not absorb all of the nutrients that have entered the portal vein from the intestine. In advanced liver cirrhosis, the toxic substances can get into the brain and initially cause concentration disorders, tremors, muscle twitching, unsteady gait, psychological changes and constant sleepiness, and later even lead to a coma.
Liver cirrhosis develops insidiously and is often only recognized at a late stage. The most important therapeutic measure is to treat the underlying disease.
Damage from alcohol
Regular heavy consumption of alcohol damages the whole body and especially the liver. As a result, fat is stored in the liver. If inflammation occurs in addition to such a fatty liver, this is referred to as alcoholic fatty liver hepatitis. Cirrhosis of the liver can develop with long-term alcohol consumption. The daily threshold dose for low-risk alcohol consumption is half a liter of beer or a quarter of a liter of wine for men and a quarter of a liter of beer or an eighth of a liter of wine for women.
Acute liver failure
In the case of acute liver failure or acute liver weakness, the function of the liver is suddenly disturbed without the patient having previously had liver disease. Most often, acute liver failure is caused by an infection of the liver with viruses (hepatitis) or by toxic substances such as medication, drugs, death cap mushrooms or chemicals. Patients develop jaundice, bleeding disorders, become sleepy, or fall into a coma. The disease needs immediate treatment. If the liver is badly damaged, the only way out may be a liver transplant.
There are benign and malignant tumors of the liver. The most common benign tumor is the hemangioma of the liver. Other benign liver tumors are liver adenoma or focal nodular hyperplasia (FNH). Usually the tumors are discovered by chance. Large tumors are removed in one operation. Malignant tumors can either develop in the liver itself (hepatocellular carcinoma = primary hepatocellular carcinoma, angiosarcoma or hepatoblastoma) or daughter tumors (metastases) of malignant tumors elsewhere in the body, e.g. B. from a cancer of the colon or breast.
Alveolar echinococcosis is an infection of the body with the fox tapeworm (Echinococcus multilocularis). The parasite is transmitted by foxes, dogs or cats. The infection spreads to the liver like a malignant tumor and can destroy the liver. The affected parts of the liver must be surgically removed if possible.
Cystic echinococcosis is caused by the dog tapeworm (Echinococcus granulosus). After penetrating the intestinal wall, the "hook larvae" mainly reach the liver via the portal vein. However, they can also reach other organs (lungs, spleen, brain, kidneys) directly via the bloodstream. If possible, the cysts should be surgically removed Doctor administer albendazole for treatment.
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