Located in the upper right side of the abdominal cavity, the liver is the largest organ in the body. The liver is also a gland. The liver, which can both expand and renew itself, undertakes many important vital functions. The main functions of the liver, which is a very important organ, can be listed as follows.
Symptoms of Liver Diseases
Although the symptoms seen in the body vary according to the type and severity of the disease, the most common symptoms are as follows:
Types of Liver Diseases
Hepatitis is one of the most common liver diseases. There are five different types of hepatitis, also known as liver inflammation: A, B, C, D, and E. The incidence of hepatitis types that can be transmitted through blood, sexual contact and contaminated water is different and there is no vaccine for each type of hepatitis. Hepatitis A, which is transmitted by contact with the feces of infected people, is vaccinated for children aged 18 months and 2 years, within the routine vaccination schedule. With this vaccine, the person is protected from Hepatitis A disease for life. Hepatitis B is another type of hepatitis included in the childhood vaccination calendar. It can be said that almost all of those infected with the hepatitis B virus, which is transmitted through blood and sexually, recover spontaneously. However, in rare cases, patients may need to be treated in hospital. This is because untreated Hepatitis B is likely to trigger other liver diseases such as liver cirrhosis and liver cancer. Hepatitis C, which can be transmitted in the same way as other viruses, has no vaccine. This disease, which is largely chronic, must be treated. This is because, as with Hepatitis B, untreated Hepatitis C disease is likely to trigger cancer and cirrhosis. Other types of hepatitis that are not vaccinated are D and E. While hepatitis D is rare, hepatitis E virus is frequently encountered in countries where healthy drinking water is insufficient.
The accumulation of more fat than normal in liver cells is called fatty liver. This disease, which occurs when the liver consists of at least 5% of its weight from fat, is more common in people who consume alcohol. However, the disease can also occur in people who consume little or no alcohol.
Non-Alcoholic Fatty Liver
Fatty liver disease in people who use little or no alcohol is defined as NAFLD (Non-Alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease) in medicine. The incidence of this disease, which is 30% in adults, causes inflammation in the liver and is called NASH (Non-Alcoholic SteatoHepatitis). NASH, which can be caused by factors such as obesity, Type 2 diabetes, insulin resistance, high calorie diet, saturated fat consumption, sedentary life and diet with ready-to-eat foods, is a disease that usually progresses without showing any symptoms. For the diagnosis of this disease, which can cause both cirrhosis and liver cancer if not intervened in a timely manner, AST and ALT values should be checked and whether there is fat in the liver with ultrasound. Exercise, regular and healthy diet, and reaching the ideal weight are important factors in the treatment of fatty liver. If the patient does not pay attention to his health, cancer formation can be seen both in the liver and in different parts of the body. NASH, which also triggers kidney diseases, can also cause heart attack and cerebral palsy.
Alcohol-Induced Fatty Liver
One of the causes of fatty liver is excessive alcohol consumption. Obesity and diet with saturated fat foods are also among the factors that trigger fatty liver. Another underlying disease, genetic factors, gender and age can cause alcohol-induced fatty liver, regardless of the amount of alcohol consumed. Like many other liver diseases, alcohol-induced fatty liver disease is a condition that usually progresses without any symptoms. After the liver condition is evaluated with the necessary blood tests and imaging devices, the patient should completely quit alcohol. It is possible for the patient to regain his old health in a period of 4-6 weeks following the quitting of alcohol. This ailment can be prevented with a proper diet plan and some medications to be used.
Diseases such as hepatitis B, C and D, alcohol-related and non-alcoholic fatty liver disease cause liver damage. As a result of the deterioration of the cells, the liver becomes unable to perform many functions. This process is actually the first stage of cirrhosis and usually proceeds without symptoms. In case of increased liver damage, the disease progresses further and the liver hardens and shrinks. In the last stages of the disease, the possibility of liver failure is quite high. Therefore, in some cases, cirrhosis is also called liver failure. In many patients, cirrhosis occurs during general controls or in tests performed as a result of some complaints of the patient. Symptoms such as weakness, weight loss, jaundice, decrease in muscle mass, abdominal swelling, nail changes, swelling in the legs, bloody vomiting, muscle cramps, menstrual irregularity, sexual dysfunction, black stools are among the symptoms of cirrhosis, which progresses asymptomatically in the first stage. It is possible to treat cirrhosis with medication. During the treatment period, alcohol should also be completely abandoned. However, liver transplantation is the only treatment that can be applied in cases where cirrhosis progresses and drug therapy is not sufficient. Therefore, as with many other diseases, early detection of cirrhosis is critical.
It can be said that liver cancer, which is the fifth most common cancer type in the world, is more common in men than in women. Hepatitis B, hepatitis C, cirrhosis, excessive alcohol consumption and fatty liver are among the main factors that can trigger cancer. At the same time, smoking, irregular diet, some drugs used and genetically transmitted liver diseases can also cause liver cancer. Liver cancer, which is usually seen in cirrhosis patients, does not show symptoms in the early stages like other liver diseases. There are different treatment methods for liver cancer, which is diagnosed by methods such as MRI, ultrasonography, computed tomography and laparoscopy. In order to determine the appropriate treatment plan, the question of whether the cancer originates from the liver or from other organs should be sought first. Surgical intervention is a frequently used method in the treatment of liver cancer. However, it should be kept in mind that this applies only to patients who do not have cirrhosis or whose cirrhosis is only in the early stages. The reason for this is that liver failure is seen in the later stages of cirrhosis and this makes the option of surgery impossible. Chemotherapy and radiotherapy are among the common treatment methods used in liver cancer as well as in other types of cancer. Cancer types such as kidney, breast, colorectal, lung, skin, and ovary can also metastasize and cause liver cancer. Metastatic liver cancers are 30 times more common than cancers arising from cirrhosis or adiposity.
Benign cysts may form in the liver. The factors that cause these cysts are different, and the treatment methods also vary according to the type of cyst.
Simple cysts, which are usually seen after the age of 40, are cysts that do not pose any danger in most cases, as the name suggests. The size of simple cysts remaining from congenital or past infectious diseases is less than 3 cm. No treatment is applied for cysts that are silent and do not grow. However, if the number of cysts is large, grows and causes internal bleeding, then the fluid inside the cysts is drained and these cysts are surgically removed.
Hydatid cyst, also known as canine cyst, is the most common type of cyst in the liver. Hydatid cyst caused by parasite is a type of cyst transmitted from animal to human. Especially as a result of ingestion of water and food contaminated with the eggs of the parasite in the feces of dogs, the parasite can settle in the liver through the blood route from the intestines. Therefore, it should be ensured that the drinking water is clean and food should be thoroughly washed before consumption. In the treatment of hydatid cyst, the cyst can be evacuated by laparoscopy, and some cysts may need to be surgically removed.
Hemangioma cyst that does not turn into cancer is a type of liver cyst that is more common in women. Cysts that usually stay the same size can grow with factors such as pregnancy and birth control drugs. Cysts that grow and exceed 10 cm in size should be surgically removed. Hemangioma cysts, one of the most common liver cysts, can be detected by imaging methods such as MRI, as they do not show many symptoms.
Nutrition in Liver Diseases
Factors such as the type and severity of liver disease and the patient's condition make it almost imperative that the nutritional plan be different for each patient. However, following a healthy eating plan, exercising regularly and reaching the ideal weight are among the factors that should be considered in all liver diseases. When muscle loss is very high in cirrhosis patients, the nutrition plan should also be aimed at preventing further muscle loss. For this reason, patients should consume protein-based foods and take care not to starve for long periods of time. Since some vitamin values may decrease in cirrhosis patients, these patients may need to take supplements such as B12 and folic acid under the control of a doctor. In non-alcoholic fatty liver disease, patients should stay away from ready-made foods as much as possible, avoid foods that increase blood sugar, and stay away from saturated fat as much as possible, he should exercise regularly and reach his ideal weight. It has been observed that some herbal products or drugs that are thought to treat liver diseases cause more damage to the liver. Therefore, no medication or supportive treatment product should be used without consulting a doctor.