Liver disease: NHS Doctor talks about link with alcohol
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Almost an eighth of the world’s total population is has too much fat in their liver, putting them at higher risk of cancer, heart disease and stroke. When this fatty build-up leads to scarring, this prevents the normal functioning of the liver and interferes with clotting processes. As the condition advances, blood clotting events may prove increasingly problematic.
According to the Mayo Clinic, oesophageal varices are enlarged veins located in the tube that connects the throat to the stomach.
“This condition occurs most often in people with serious liver diseases,” explains the health body.
It continues: “Oesophageal varices develop when normal blood flow to the liver is blocked by a clot or scar tissue in the liver.”
The body adapts to the blockages by circumventing blood flow through smaller blood vessels that cannot accommodate such large volumes of blood.
“The vessels can lead blood or even rupture, causing life-threatening bleeding,” explains the Mayo Clinic.
The four main symptoms of the condition are:
- Vomiting large amounts of blood
- Black, tarry or bloody stool
- Loss of consciousness in severe cases.
When a rupture occurs it may trigger spontaneous bouts of bleeding that can have major implications.
“Once you’ve had a bleeding episode, your risk of another bleeding episode greatly increases,” adds the Mayo Clinic.
“If you lose enough blood you can go into shock, which can lead to death.”
Other symptoms of fatty liver disease
Usually, problems only start to occur once fatty liver progresses to steatohepatitis, which describes the advanced stages.
Steoatopatitis is defined as a type of liver disease in which fat builds up in the liver of people who don’t drink alcohol.
The Patient Info website explained: “The majority of patients with stenosis have no symptoms, although on questionnaires many patients with steatohepatitis report persistent fatigue, malaise or right upper quadrant pain.
“Advanced disease may present with symptoms of cirrhosis such as ascites, oedema and jaundice.”
Often these symptoms are ignored until routine medical check-ups or blood tests reveal NAFLD.
If scar tissue has replaced a substantial about of healthy tissue, an individual may experience liver failure.
This is an indication that the damage caused by cirrhosis has become so extensive that the liver has stopped functioning.
Like bleeding oesophageal varices, cirrhosis can be life-threatening.
How is early liver disease treated?
According to the British Liver Trust, the main treatment for non-alcoholic fatty liver disease is eating a well-balanced diet, being physically active and (if needed) losing weight.
“Research shows these can reduce liver fat and in some cases reverse NAFLD,” it adds.
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