At GiDocJHB, our team has the experience and expertise to accurately diagnose and offer cutting-edge medical treatments for the common liver diseases, including hepatitis B and hepatitis C, liver cancer, or cirrhosis.
By preventing or delaying additional liver damage and related complications through innovative therapies and treatment, Dr Schneider is dedicated to working towards improving patients’ health and the quality of life.
In addition to receiving the most effective therapies, patients receive personalized support and patient education to help them cope with long-term liver illness and treatment.
What are Liver Diseases?
Liver disease is any condition of liver function that causes infection, obstruction, illness or inflammation.
The liver is responsible for many important functions within the body and should it become diseased, the loss of those functions can cause significant damage to the rest of the body.
Usually, more than 75% or three-quarters of liver tissue needs to be affected before a decrease in bodily function occurs.
The liver performs numerous functions for the body, including:
- Helps digest your food, convert it into energy, and stores energy for future use
- Filtering toxic substances out of your blood
- Producing proteins and enzymes
- Maintaining hormone balances
- Storing some vitamins
- Making factors that help the immune system fight infection
- Removing bacteria from the blood
- Making bile, which is essential for digestion.
What Causes Liver Disease and Failure?
- Alcohol-Related Liver Disease: Regularly drinking too much alcohol.
- Non-Alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease:Being very overweight (obese) – this may cause fat to build up in the liver.
- Viruses: Viruses including the Epstein-Barr virus, cytomegalovirus, and herpes simplex virus: They lead to liver damage or cirrhosis.
- Hepatitis B: It makes your liver swell and stops it from working the way it should.
- Hepatitis C: If you have it long-term, it can lead to cirrhosis.
- Haemochromatosis: A gene that runs in families and may be passed from parents to offsprings.
- Reaction to Medication: Reactions to certain prescription and herbal medications: Some kill cells in your liver. Others damage the duct system that moves bile through it.
- Chemical Toxicity: Exposure to certain toxic chemicals.
- Septic Shock: This overwhelming infection in your body can damage your liver or cause it to stop working
- Autoimmune disorders: This is a condition where the body’s infection-fighting system (immune system) attacks healthy tissue.
Are You at Risk?
Certain things can make you more likely to develop certain liver diseases. One of the most well-known ones is heavy drinking, which according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, defines as more than eight alcoholic drinks a week for women and more than 15 drinks a week for men.
Other risk factors include:
- Sharing needles
- Getting a tattoo or body piercing with non-sterile needles
- Doing a job where you are exposed to blood and other bodily fluids
- Having sex without using protection against sexually transmitted infections
- Having diabetes or high cholesterol
- Having a family history of liver disease
- Being overweight
- Exposure to toxins or pesticides
- Taking certain supplements or herbs, especially in large amounts
- Mixing certain medications with alcohol or taking more than the recommended dose of certain medications.
How are Liver Diseases Diagnosed?
Since there are so many different causes and types of liver diseases, the specific disease can be difficult to diagnose.
If you are concerned you might have a liver disease, it is best to make an appointment with your gastroenterologist to narrow down what is causing your symptoms.
Your Gastroenterologist is likely to start with your health history and thorough physical examination.
The following may be recommended:
- A complete blood count test. A group of blood tests called liver function tests can be used to diagnose liver disease. Other blood tests can be done to look for specific liver problems or genetic conditions.
- Imaging tests. An ultrasound, CT scan and MRI can show liver damage.
- Tissue analysis. Removing a tissue sample (biopsy) from your liver may help diagnose liver disease and look for signs of liver damage. A liver biopsy is most often done using a long needle inserted through the skin to extract a tissue sample. It is then analyzed in a laboratory.
How is Liver Disease/Failure Treated?
Treatment for liver disease depends on your diagnosis on whether it is acute or chronic.
For chronic liver failure, treatment includes changes to the diet and lifestyle, including:
- Avoiding alcohol or known medications that can harm the liver
- Avoiding or eating less of certain foods, such as red meat, cheese and eggs
- Regular exercise and control of metabolic risk factors, including high blood pressure and diabetes
- Reducing or cutting out salt in your diet.
For acute liver failure, treatment options include:
- Intravenous (IV) fluids to maintain blood pressure;
- Medications such as laxatives to help flush toxins out
- Blood glucose (sugar) monitoring; glucose is given to the patient if blood sugar drops.
In both acute (sudden) and chronic liver failure, the doctor may recommend a liver transplant. Before transplantation, doctors thoroughly screen transplant candidates to make sure a new organ might help them before placing them on organ waiting lists.
What are the Likely Causes of My Symptoms?
- What kind of tests do I need to go through and do these tests require any special preparation from me?
- Are my liver problems likely acute or chronic?
- What treatment options are available?
- Should I stop taking certain medications or vitamins?
- How much alcohol can I drink?
- I have other health conditions. How can I best manage these conditions together?
If you have more question about your liver condition, contact Dr Schneider and book your appointment today.
DISCLAIMER: PLEASE READ CAREFULLY
The information on this website is to provide general guidance. In no way does any of the information provided reflect definitive medical advice and self-diagnoses should not be made based on information obtained online. It is important to consult a Gastroenterologist or medical doctor regarding ANY and ALL symptoms or signs including, but not limited to: abdominal pain, haemorrhoids or anal / rectal bleeding as it may a sign of a serious illness or condition. A thorough consultation and examination should ALWAYS be performed for an accurate diagnosis and treatment plan. Be sure to call a physician or call our office today and schedule a consultation.