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Liver disease is varied and there are many conditions that affect this vital organ, including cirrhosis, alcoholic fatty liver, and hepatitis. Primary sclerosing cholangitis is a type of inflammatory liver disease affecting the bile ducts. Hepatocellular carcinoma is a type of liver cancer that is among the most serious of liver diseases.
Hepatitis of the liver comes in different forms and is contracted in various ways. Hepatitis A, B, C, and D are the classifications of this disease. The hepatitis A virus may cause symptoms of fatigue, jaundiced skin, and mild fever. This is generally the mildest form and requires no prescribed medications. The general course of treatment is bed rest and the use of a fever reducer or pain reliever.
Some individuals with hepatitis B may not show obvious symptoms and may not feel ill in the chronic stages of this disease. Over time, deterioration of the liver and its functioning may result. The disease is contagious even with no apparent symptoms. The same course of treatment as prescribed with hepatitis A is typically recommended.
The hepatitis C virus generally produces no symptoms in many patients, although over the course of time, damage to the liver will manifest. A disease known as cirrhosis, which causes scarring of liver and decay, may develop. For those patients who have pronounced symptoms, sharp pain in the abdomen may be present, as well as nausea and vomiting.
Hepatitis D is also known as delta agent. This type of disease manifests in patients who have contracted the hepatitis B virus. Abdominal pain and gastrointestinal symptoms may be present with this disease. A liver biopsy my tell if a patient with hepatitis B has the delta agent present as well.
Alcoholic liver disease generally manifests in patients who have been heavy drinkers for several years. With this condition, a patient may develop cirrhosis of the liver. The liver may become irreversibly damaged if alcohol consumption is continued after a diagnosis has been made. In some cases, the damage may be so severe the only recourse would be for the patient to undergo a liver transplant.
Some types of liver disease may impair the organ's ability to function. Cirrhosis, whether due to excessive alcoholic consumption or other factors, may impair the liver's capacity to function properly over time. The liver may not be able to filter toxins from the blood, and as a result, frequent infections may occur.
Liver cancer that has originated in the liver is medically known as Hepatocellular carcinoma. There are various forms of cancer that originate in other areas of the body that metastasize or spread to the liver, however. In such cases, this can often be life threatening. Any form of liver cancer can potentially be fatal within a relatively short span of time.