Liver Disease | Cirrhosis of the Liver

The doctors and specialists at MaineHealth diagnose and treat all types of liver disease, including hepatitis and cirrhosis of the liver. Early detection of liver disease is essential to treatment.

What is liver disease?

Your liver has the important jobs of processing food into energy the body can use and removing toxins from the blood. Liver disease can be any liver disorder that keeps the liver from doing its job properly. Loss of liver function is serious. Liver diseases can include:

  • Cirrhosis of the liver: Chronic damage to liver cells due to alcohol, infection, or other causes
  • Viral hepatitis:  Liver infection caused by a virus
  • Fatty liver disease: Also called nonalcoholic liver disease, it is a buildup of liver fat in people who do not drink alcohol or drink very little alcohol
  • Alcoholic hepatitis: Liver disease caused by drinking too much alcohol
  • Cancer: Including liver cancer, bile duct cancer and liver adenoma

Liver Disease Risk Factors

There are many different risks factors

  • Alcohol abuse: Drinking too much alcohol can lead to liver disease.
  • Hepatitis: Some types of hepatitis make patients sick temporarily but in some cases hepatitis can turn into a chronic problem.  Different types of hepatitis are spread via ingesting contaminated food, sexual contact, or blood exposure/sharing needles.
  • Chemical exposure: Exposure to some chemicals can lead to liver disease.
  • Over-using acetaminophen (Tylenol): Overdose of certain over-the-counter drugs, such as Tylenol, can lead to liver failure. Seek medical care immediately if you have taken an accidental or intentional overdose of Tylenol.

Liver Disease Symptoms

Liver Disease Can Develop Slowly

Liver disease can have few or no symptoms at first. Liver disease symptoms can include:

  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Stomach pain (upper right side)
  • Fever that won’t go away
  • Yellowing of the skin (called jaundice)
  • Feeling overly tired and weak
  • Weight loss

Liver Disease Diagnosis

Testing for Liver Disease

The initial evaluation of liver disease includes screening tests and a physical exam. Testing may also include:

  • CT scan
  • MRI
  • Ultrasound
  • Liver biopsy

Liver Disease Treatment

Ongoing Care Is Needed for Liver Disease

Keeping the disease from getting worse or to slow its progress often requires ongoing care. Treatment includes medication and medical procedures to control the effects of liver disease. Liver transplant may be recommended for patients when other treatments have not worked.

Maine Medical Partners Virology Treatment Center (VTC)

Patients with acute and chronic liver disease can receive treatment and referrals through the Maine Medical Partners Virology Treatment Center, or VTC. Patients have access to new treatments through clinical trials. The VTC evaluates and treats the following liver problems:

  • Hepatitis A, B, C
  • Liver cancer
  • Cirrhosis of the liver

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