The many possible liver diseases can be grouped loosely into three categories: hepatocellular diseases, cholestatic diseases, and mixed forms. In hepatocellular diseases, the liver is typically inflamed and shows signs of injury. Over time, liver cells may begin to die. Causes of hepatocellular liver disease include alcoholic cirrhosis and viral hepatitis, both of which attack liver cells directly. In cholestatic diseases, the flow of fluid through the liver is blocked by such things as gall stones, liver cancer, or biliary cirrhosis. In mixed forms of liver disease, both conditions are present.
The pattern and onset of symptoms can help physicians determine what kind of liver disease is present. Symptoms of liver disease include jaundice, fatigue, itching, pain in the upper abdomen, distention of the abdomen, and intestinal bleeding. However, many forms of liver disease have no symptoms and are diagnosed only during routine blood tests that detect abnormalities in the markers of liver function.
The most common cause of fatty liver disease is alcohol consumption, but it can also be caused by a number of other conditions, including obesity, diabetes, and elevated triglyceride levels. If the condition is associated with obesity, it is sometimes called nonalcoholic fatty liver disease, or NAFLD. Up to one-third of patients with NAFLD also have type 2 diabetes, high cholesterol levels, or both. NAFLD is closely associated with metabolic syndrome, which is a related cluster of conditions, including obesity, diabetes, elevated triglycerides, and high blood pressure, that is considered a major risk factor for heart attack. Fatty liver disease is exacerbated by inflammation within the liver, which may hasten its progression to cirrhosis.
BHRT World Summit 2 - an internet video seminar
November 10-25, 2008
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