Liver disease: 9 common types, causes and risk factors

Liver diseases

Liver disease is any condition that damages the liver and prevents it from functioning well. Liver disease has many causes including infections, Immune system abnormality, genetics, cancers and other growths, chronic alcohol abuse etc

Below are some common liver diseases and conditions

1. Hepatitis

Inflammation of the liver, usually caused by viruses like hepatitis A, B, and C. Hepatitis can have non-infectious causes too, including heavy drinking, drugs, allergic reactions, or obesity.

2. Cirrhosis

Long-term damage to the liver from any cause can lead to permanent scarring, called cirrhosis. The liver then becomes unable to function well.

3. Liver cancer

Liver or hepatic cancer is a cancer that begins in the liver. The most common type of liver cancer, hepatocellular carcinoma, almost always occurs after cirrhosis is present.

4. Liver failure

Liver failure has many causes including infection, genetic diseases, and excessive alcohol.

5. Ascites

As cirrhosis develops, the liver leaks fluid (ascites) into the belly, which becomes distended and heavy.

6. Gallstones

If a gallstone becomes stuck in the bile duct draining the liver, hepatitis and bile duct infection (cholangitis) can occur.

7. Hemochromatosis

An inherited condition caused by excessive absorption of iron, leading to high blood iron levels and iron deposits in multiple joints.

8. Primary sclerosing cholangitis

This is an autoimmune liver disease that causes inflammation and scarring in the bile ducts in the liver causing them to become inflamed and narrowed.

9. Primary biliary cirrhosis

This is an autoimmune disorder that slowly destroys the bile ducts in the liver. In primary biliary cirrhosis, the bile ducts develop inflammation and eventually collapse. This causes liver damage and may eventually lead to cirrhosis.

Symptoms of liver disease

  1. Abnormal metabolism of fats e.g arteries blocked with fat, sluggish metabolism, cellulite, fatty liver etc
  2. Digestive problems eg reflux, nausea and vomiting attacks, gallstones and gallbladder disease etc
  3. Blood sugar problems e.g craving for sugar, hypoglycaemia and unstable blood sugar levels, mature onset diabetes (Type 2) is common in those with a fatty liver.
  4. Nervous system e.g recurrent headaches (including migraine) associated with nausea, overheating of the body, especially the face and torso etc
  5. Immune dysfunction e.g chronic fatigue syndrome, increase in recurrent viral, bacterial and parasitic infections, skin rashes and inflammations etc
  6. External signs e.g yellow discoloration of the eyes, coated tongue, skins rashes, bad breath, excessive sweating etc

Factors that may increase your risk of liver disease include:

  1. Heavy alcohol use
  2. Injecting drugs using shared needles
  3. Tattoos or body piercings
  4. Exposure to other people’s blood and body fluids
  5. Unprotected sex
  6. Exposure to certain chemicals or toxins
  7. Diabetes
  8. Obesity


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Beyond Borders Medtours team