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Digestive Disorder Treatment

  • Liver Disease

    There are more than 100 different types of liver disease, which together affect at least 2 million people in Africa.

    The liver:
    The liver is the second largest organ in the body. It works hard, performing hundreds of complex functions, including:
    • fighting infections and illness.
    • removing toxins (poisons), such as alcohol from the body.
    • controlling cholesterol levels and helping blood to clot ( thicken)
    • releasing bile, a liquid that breaks down fats and aids digestion

    Liver disease doesn’t usually cause any obvious signs or symptoms until it’s fairly advanced and the liver is damaged.At this stage, possible symptoms can include loss of appetite, weight loss and jaundice.

    Types of liver disease
    Listed below are some specific types of liver disease.
    1. Alcohol-related liver disease: where the liver is damaged after years of alcohol misuse, this can lead to cirrhosis (scarring of the liver).
    2. Non-alcoholic liver disease: a build-up of fat within liver cells, usually seen in overweight people.
    3. Hepatitis: – which is inflammation (swelling) of the liver caused by a viral infection or exposure to harmful substances such as alcohol.
    4. Haemochromatosis: – an inherited disorder where there’s a gradual build-up of iron in the body, usually around the liver.
    5. Primary biliary cirrhosis: – a rare, long-term type of liver disease that damages the bile ducts in the liver. It’s important to note that all types of liver disease can cause cirrhosis (scarring of the liver), not just alcohol-related liver disease.

    Significant health problem:
    In South Africa, liver disease is on the increase. Three of the main causes of liver disease are:
    • Obesity:
    • undiagnosed hepatitis infection
    • alcohol misuse

    These causes of liver disease are all preventable so it’s important to make sure:
    • you’re a healthy weight for your height.
    • you avoid drinking excessive amounts of alcohol.
    • take the appropriate measures to prevent getting hepatitis, such as getting vaccinated if you’re at risk

    Liver Cancer
    Although primary liver cancer is relatively uncommon, many other forms of cancer often metastasize in the liver. Because the liver filters a high volume of blood which may be carrying cancer cells, it is susceptible to developing a form of secondary cancer. If cancer originates in the liver, it is often caused by hepatitis B, hepatitis C or it can develop in cases of advanced liver disease  when cirrhosis is present.