Everything You Need To Know About Liver Disease

  • The liver is essential for removing toxins from the body.
  • Liver diseases can be inherited.
  • You can get liver diseases even if you don’t drink alcohol.

The liver is about the size of a football and is located on your abdomen’s right side, just under your rib cage. The liver helps digest food and eliminate toxins from the body. You can inherit liver diseases, but various factors can also cause liver damage and lead to a life-threatening condition. Early treatment of liver disease allows your liver to heal.


Liver disease rarely causes noticeable symptoms. If symptoms do occur, they may include:

  • Yellowish skin and eyes (jaundice)
  • Swollen and painful abdomen
  • Swollen legs and ankles
  • Itchy skin
  • Dark-colored urine
  • Pale colored stool
  • Chronic fatigue
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Appetite loss
  • Prone to bruising

See your doctor if you experience any persistent symptom that worries you, like severe abdominal pain.


Several things can cause liver disease.


Inflammation caused by a parasitic or viral infection can reduce liver function. The viruses that damage the liver can spread through blood or semen, close contact with an infected person, or contaminated food or water. Hepatitis viruses are the most common types of liver infection.

Immune system issues

Autoimmune diseases, like autoimmune hepatitis, primary biliary cholangitis, and primary sclerosing cholangitis, attack certain parts of your body, including your liver. 


An abnormal gene passed on by one or both of your parents can cause harmful substances to accumulate in your liver, resulting in damage. Hemochromatosis, Wilson’s disease, and Alpha-1 antitrypsin deficiency are some examples of genetic liver diseases. 

Cancer and other growths

Tumor growths in your liver and bile duct can also cause liver diseases. 

Common Causes

Liver disease is usually caused by chronic alcohol abuse, fat accumulation in the liver, or certain prescription or over-the-counter medications and herbal compounds. 

Risk factors

These factors may increase your risk of liver disease:

  • Chronic alcohol use
  • Obesity
  • Type 2 diabetes
  • Using shared needles
  • Blood transfusion before 1992
  • Exposure to other people’s body fluids and blood
  • Unprotected sex
  • Exposure to certain toxins or chemicals
  • Having a family member with liver disease


Untreated liver disease may lead to liver failure, a life-threatening condition. Other complications depend on the cause of your liver problem.


  • Drink alcohol moderately. This means one drink a day for healthy adult women and up to two drinks a day for healthy adult men. 
  • Be cautious. Practice safe sex, and be picky about cleanliness and safety when getting a tattoo or body piercing. Avoid using illicit intravenous drugs.
  • Get vaccinated. If you’re at a high risk of contracting hepatitis or have been infected with the hepatitis virus, consider getting the hepatitis A and hepatitis B vaccines.
  • Use medications wisely. Don’t take prescription and nonprescription drugs more than the recommended dose, and consult your doctor before taking any herbal supplements or medicines. Don’t drink alcohol when taking your medications. 
  • Avoid contact with other people’s blood and body fluids. You can contract hepatitis viruses when you’re exposed to infected people’s blood or body fluids.
  • Keep your food clean. Keep your hands clean when handling food or eating. Use bottled water for drinking, washing your hands, and brushing your teeth when you’re traveling to a developing country. 
  • Be wary of aerosol sprays. Use these products in a well-ventilated area, and make sure to cover your nose, face, and exposed body parts when spraying insecticides, fungicides, paint, and other toxic chemicals, so your skin doesn’t absorb the chemicals.
  • Keep your weight healthy. Obesity is a risk factor for nonalcoholic fatty liver disease.

Source: Mayo Clinic

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