Liver problems are becoming increasingly common among both ends of the economic spectrum. While those in need of medical attention suffer from infections like hepatitis; the affluent are no strangers to cirrhosis.
So how do we identify such conditions early on? Liver plays a crucial role in digestion as well as breakdown of proteins and their metabolism. Therefore, initial signs and symptoms are related to the aforementioned.
However, if not an acute infection; early detection of such conditions can be fairly challenging due to the symptoms being vague to say the least.
Any liver problem manifests earliest in digestion and metabolic imbalances. Abdominal heaviness, bloated sensation, poor appetite, weak digestion, fatigue and poor concentration are some of the early signs. Sadly, there can be far too many reasons for such symptoms. As a result, in majority cases by the time any abnormality is detected it is already serious or irreversible.
Common causes nowadays are cirrhosis and fatty liver. Fatty liver can be a result of alcohol consumption and/or junk food and a fat-rich diet. Obesity, diabetes and high cholesterol are other risk factors.
These lead to increased fat deposition in the liver cells leading to loss of liver function. Prolonged fatty liver leads to permanent damage of liver cells (hepatocytes) which leads to cirrhosis.
Cirrhosis is the end stage of any liver problem if left unnoticed or unchecked. Viral hepatitis is a major cause. While timely detection and intervention can completely cure you; once cirrhosis sets in, the condition becomes irreversible.
Therefore, it is crucial to pay attention to the early signs your body gives out and consult a doctor. Most of these conditions surface in the 40s. As a result, it is always a good practice to get an annual liver function test (LFT) done.
LFTs measure various components in the blood which gives a fair idea about the liver’s functioning. Timely detection not only makes it easier to get proper treatment, but also prevents permanent liver damage.