Liver disease, is not talked about a lot in the societies of today very often. It is a quiet killer with many symptoms. Statistically, liver is rapidly increasing in today’s world as a ruthless fatal disease due to our diets and lifestyles.
Liver disease can be caused by many different things. Some of which are drinking alcohol, abusing drugs, using too much Tylenol, hepatitis, obesity, and many other reasons.
Liver disease can kill you, if not treated early and properly. Regular blood work can show if the liver is functioning well or not. You should always ask your doctor to routinely check your liver function.
A very healthy diet, abstaining from drinking alcohol, and exercise promote good liver function.
Symptoms depend on the type and the extent of liver disease. In many cases, there may be no symptoms at all, or you may have some or all of these symptoms. Darkened urine, due to high bilirubin, nausea, loss of appetite, unusual weight loss or weight gain, vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal pain in the upper right part of the stomach.
Other sympstoms are, a feeling of illness, enlarged blood vessels in the abdomen ( portal hypertension), fatigue, or low blood sugar. Muscle aches and pains, loss of sex drive, jaundice, light coloration of stools, bloating and distention of the abdomen.
Symptoms of liver disease, as you can see, mimic a lot of other illnesses and diseases, and vice versa.
In Alcoholic liver disease, which is what my husband has, there are four stages. Stage one is a fatty liver, stage 2 is alcoholic hepatitis, stage 3 is liver fibrosis, and stage 4 is cirrhosis, and sometimes cancer of the liver.
My husband’s symptoms of alcoholic liver disease were very subtle at first, and they had mimicked the flu, being tired, sleepiness, heart trouble, obesity, muscle pain and weakness upon exertion, and foggyness due to depression.
My husband was a heavy drinker for several years. He quit on his own after a doctor told him that he had moderate cirrhosis of the liver. The doctor warned him that he might die in a few years if he did not stop drinking. At that time he was diagnosed with fatty liver, Barrett’s Esophagus, portal hypertension, and sluggish kidneys.
The specialist advised my husband to lose weight, to slow down the disease. He went from drinking too much alcohol, to overeating his favorite foods, which are hamburgers, cheeseburgers, and sweets. He seemed to replace his alcohol addiction with unhealthy food choices. We now know that his kind of food adds to the destruction of the liver as well.
Now it is three years later, and last week he was given the diagnosis of stage 4 cirrhosis. It came on so quickly!
He has been having some of the symptoms for the last few years and we really were not aware of how bad his disease had gotten. He had gradually begun gaining a lot of weight, and he became very swollen in his feet, legs, and abdomen. We just thought this had been due to his poor diet.
Then he suddenly developed symptoms of encephalopathy, (swelling of the brain due to toxins in the brain), a few weeks ago, and he was hospitalized just in time. It was very frightening to see him so very ill. He does not remember anything about the first twenty four hours of going there. He was talking out of critically ill. He became incoherent, and unaware of how sick he was. He stayed in the hospital for a few days until they stabilized him. Then he was sent home with medications and it was up to me to care for him unless he became acute again.
At the hospital he was then referred to a new liver specialist as an out patient. When we saw the specialist, he was straight with us, and told us that John now had stage 4 cirrhosis of the liver. He informed us my husband would need to lose 100 lbs in 6 months to become qualified to get on the liver transplant list.
Now he has to try to lose weight, most of which is water, stay with a special, very strict liver diet. He is to take 7 1/2 water pills a day, and large doses of Lactulose, (a medicine to rid his body of high ammonia levels through the bowels), to help prevent the brain from swelling.
I was inspired to write such an article due to my husband getting this terrible disease from drinking heavily for many years. Warn your friends and loved ones to beware of the causes of liver disease, and also its many symptoms.
There are many sites to visit about these subjects on the internet.
Here are a couple: http://www.medicinenet.com/liver_disease/article.htm