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Liver Disease

Northern Medical Group Gastroenterology Division

GASTROENTEROLOGY PRACTICE LOCATED IN POUGHKEEPSIE, NY, FISHKILL, NY & HIGHLAND, NY

Though alcohol is well known for damaging the liver and leading to cirrhosis, 30% of Americans have non-alcoholic fatty liver disease, putting them at risk for similar kidney damage. The experienced physicians at Northern Medical Group Gastroenterology Division perform extensive diagnostics to identify your liver problem, then create a customized treatment and comprehensive care plan to protect the health of your liver. If you have abdominal pain or swelling, itchy skin, or jaundice, don’t wait to schedule an appointment. Call the office in Fishkill, Poughkeepsie, or Highland, New York, or book online today.

Liver Disease Q & A

What causes liver disease?

Liver disease causes progressive damage that threatens your health as it stops the liver from performing its many essential jobs. For example, your liver stores glucose for quick energy, regulates blood levels of amino acids, and removes harmful bacteria from your bloodstream.

The liver is best known for its ability to break down and eliminate drugs and toxic wastes. With a damaged liver, these toxins make you sick as they build-up in your bloodstream.

There are more than 100 types of liver disease, but these are some of the most common:

  • Hepatitis
  • Cirrhosis
  • Liver cancer
  • Hemochromatosis
  • Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease
  • Non-alcoholic steatohepatitis
  • Hyperoxaluria and oxalosis
  • Primary sclerosing cholangitis

Viruses, medications, toxins, herbal supplements, alcoholism, autoimmune diseases, and metabolic problems, such as obesity and diabetes, cause these diseases.

What symptoms develop if I have liver disease?

When symptoms start to appear, you may experience:

  • Jaundice (skin and eyes appear yellow)
  • Abdominal pain and swelling
  • Swelling in the legs and ankles
  • Itchy skin
  • Easy bruising
  • Persistent fatigue
  • Loss of appetite
  • Nausea and vomiting

You may also notice that your urine is dark or that your stools appear pale.

How does liver disease progress?

A healthy liver has an incredible ability to regenerate and repair itself. But once the tissues are damaged, inflammation develops; chronic inflammation causes scarring, and scarring replaces healthy tissues.

Without treatment, this scarring, called fibrosis, progresses into cirrhosis. At an early stage, you still have the chance to slow down the progressive scarring and protect the remaining healthy tissues.

But if cirrhosis keeps getting worse, it takes over more of your healthy liver. Eventually, you reach end-stage liver disease, which is when your liver is so damaged that your only treatment option is a transplant.

How is liver disease treated?

The treatment you receive depends on the type and severity of your liver disease. Dietary changes, losing weight, getting exercise, and stopping alcohol abuse are examples of lifestyle changes that improve liver disease.

You may also need one of many possible medications to help limit liver damage, slow the progression, prevent fluid build-up, and control hypertension.

Monitoring the progression of liver disease is one of the most important parts of liver disease treatment. The team at Northern Medical Group Gastroenterology Division specializes in advanced procedures that measure scar tissue and liver fat, including the noninvasive FibroScan™ device.

If you have questions about liver disease, call Northern Medical Group Gastroenterology Division, or schedule an appointment online today.