Liver Disease

The Importance of the Liver

The Liver is the largest and most complex internal organ in the body performing over 500 different functions in the body. The liver is the body´s filter and an important regulator of the metabolism, storage, and absorption of nutrients. Everything we eat, drink, or inhale goes through our liver. Multiple organs depend on a healthy liver, so the development of liver disease will result in a decline in general health, greatly increasing healthcare costs in the future.

Drivers of Liver Disease

Over the last decades, fatty liver disease has become an epidemic in the U.S. In 2023, more than 1 in 3 Americans have some form of liver condition. Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) is the most prevalent type of liver disease worldwide and a leading cause of chronic liver disease and cirrhosis in the United States. NAFLD is closely associated with other health conditions such as diabetes type 2, metabolic syndrome, coronary artery disease, celiac disease, obstructive sleep apnea, chronic kidney disease, hypertension, polycystic ovary syndrome, and hypothyroidism.

Poor diet (excessive consumption of fatty food and food high in carbs, sugary beverages, processed foods, etc.) and sedentary lifestyle, obesity, diabetes type 2, metabolic syndrome, and alcohol consumption are considered the major causes of NAFLD which means that the majority of liver disease cases are lifestyle-induced and therefore can be prevented. In fact, 90% of liver disease cases as preventable—according to the British Liver Trust.

The Liver Is a Silent Sufferer

Symptoms of liver disease remain often unnoticeable until the disease reaches a severe stage. Therefore, early detection is important to stop the progression of damage and improve treatment outcomes.

Symptoms of Liver Disease

It is difficult to diagnose a liver disease in the early stages as the liver initially doesn’t often show any symptoms. The symptoms of liver disease can arise suddenly (acute symptoms) or systematically (chronic symptoms). If you have any symptoms that cause you concern or think you are at risk of developing liver disease, make an appointment with your doctor. Although symptoms may vary depending on the specific condition, the most common signs of developing liver disease include:

  • Jaundice (yellowish skin and eyes)
  • Vomiting
  • Nausea
  • Abdominal pain
  • Black or pale stools
  • Dark urine
  • Diarrhea
  • Itching
  • Fatigue
  • Fever
  • Malabsorption
  • Unexplained weight loss
  • Unexplained bruises
  • Red palms