Understanding Liver Disease

Liver problems affect millions of people each year. As one of the largest organs in the body, the liver performs hundreds of functions that are vital to your health. The liver is susceptible to a number of diseases and conditions that can have serious health consequences. And liver disease can have a significant impact on your quality of life. Understanding your specific liver condition is a wise step in living well with liver problems.

What does the liver do?

The liver is part of the digestive system and one of the most hardworking organs in the body with more than 500 distinct functions. Of those functions, its major roles are to:

Living with liver disease

Our providers here at Illinois Gastroenterology Group are experts at diagnosing and treating liver diseases. Slowing and preventing the progression of liver disease and maximizing liver health is the number one priority. With the appropriate care plan, you can manage your condition and minimize the impact of liver disease on your quality of life. 

More than 100 diseases affect the liver. Here our experts discuss some of the most common liver diseases we treat.

Fatty liver disease

There are two types of fatty liver diseases, alcoholic fatty liver disease (AFLD) and non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD). In each case fat builds up in the liver. This can cause inflammation and liver damage. 

Heavy alcohol consumption causes AFLD, whereas people who are obese or have high triglycerides or high cholesterol are more at risk of developing NAFLD.

The liver contains a small amount of fat. However, fatty liver disease is classified as having more than 5-10% fat. If you’re overweight, losing weight is an important way to reduce the amount of fat in the liver and improve fatty liver disease. For those with alcohol-related fatty liver disease, it’s crucial that you stop drinking to prevent further damage to the liver and improve your condition.  

Hepatitis

Hepatitis is an inflammation of the liver. Viruses are the most common cause of hepatitis, but there are other causes. In autoimmune hepatitis, the immune system mistakenly attacks liver cells. 

Some people with hepatitis have no symptoms. When symptoms are present it’s common to experience

Treatment depends on the type of hepatitis. There are three forms of viral hepatitis:

Genetic liver diseases

Our providers also treat hereditary forms of liver diseases such as:

Liver disease requires careful diagnosis and management by a specialist. If you’ve been diagnosed with liver disease or your primary care provider suspects you may have it, our gastroenterology professionals can perform a range of comprehensive tests to evaluate your liver health. 

We have offices in Chicago and the surrounding suburbs including Gurnee, Evanston, Skokie, Libertyville, Lindenhurst, and Highland Park. Call your nearest office to schedule a visit with one of our specialists or you can request an appointment here on our website.

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