Most people when hearing about liver disease think specifically about alcohol liver disease (ALD), which is known to lead to cirrhosis or illegal drug abuse with contaminated needles spreading Hepatitis. While it is true that about 15 million people abuse alcohol, and 90 to 100% develop issues with their liver called a fatty liver, what is not prevalent to the public eye is that many diseases associated with the liver are not as a result of alcohol or drug abuse.
In fact, nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) is the most common chronic (long-term) liver disease in America. NASH, nonalcoholic steatohepatisis, is also another nonalcoholic related liver disease that leads to cirrhosis, hardening of the liver tissue, or scarring. This can lead to improper functioning of the liver, as well as potentially developing liver cancer. People can live with these conditions relatively well as long as the liver does not become inflamed.
Improper diet, obesity, genetics, medications, rapid weight loss and viral hepatitis are just a few of the many factors that can cause damage to the liver. Unfortunately, approximately 20% of adults and more than 6 million children worldwide suffer from some sort of damage to their liver, especially in Asian and Hispanic nations. Our body systems work interactively with each other to provide us life, energy and health and when one of our systems is disrupted, so too can other systems. Patients diagnosed with liver damage tend to also have other health problems, like high cholesterol and diabetes.
Viral Hepatitis, such as Hepatitis C, cannot be spread through casual contact but must be transmitted to the blood from an infected blood source. This can be done through breast milk, sexually transmitted fluids, shared needles, for injecting drugs or piercings and blood and organ transplants prior to 1992 in the United States. This disease can either be acute, short lived, or chronic, long-term. There is no way to predict whether the disease will be acute or chronic. An infected person can only abide by his/her physician’s prescribed course of treatment.
If you find yourself fatigued, weakened, nauseated with a loss of appetite, trouble concentrating, experiencing pain in the center or right upper part of the belly, or notice fluid retention and yellowing of skin, you might want to check the status of your liver. Doctors looking to rule out liver damage might order his/her patient a liver function test to check the liver enzymes like aminotransferase (ALT) or aspartate aminotransferase (AST), or check for viral hepatitis antibodies. To this end, DirectLabs® is offering the following tests: 1) Liver Profile (checks the health of the liver) and 2) Hepatitis C Antibodies (assesses exposure to Hepatitis C).
Written by Theresa B. Tannich, Special Projects, DirectLabs®, LLC, February 29, 2012