Liver disease can prevent the liver from performing its numerous, vital functions. There are many kinds of liver diseases. Some common diseases of the liver like Hepatitis A, Hepatitis B and Hepatitis C are caused by viruses that attack the liver. Still other liver diseases can be the result of drug abuse, exposure to poisons or excessive consumption of alcohol.
Hepatitis A causes an inflammation of the liver and is primarily transmitted through contamination of food or drinking water with fecal matter. It can be effectively prevented by vaccine shots and sanitary precautions. Hepatitis B is another infection of the liver, primarily spread through blood or body fluid contact with an infected person. It is easily prevented with vaccination and by avoiding unprotected sex, contaminated needles, and similar sources of infection. Hepatitis C is spread by direct contact with infected blood and blood products. Currently there is no effective vaccine that affords protection against Hepatitis C.
Cirrhosis damages healthy liver cells and replaces them with scar tissue, preventing the liver from functioning efficiently. Liver cancer, caused by abnormal multiplication of cells can result from diseases such as Hepatitis B and C, alcohol abuse, exposure to chemicals, or congenital defects. Liver failure is a potentially life-threatening condition characterized by severe deterioration of liver function as a result of extensive damage to the liver.
Treatment of all liver diseases involves immediate medical care aimed at slowing the progression of the disease, minimizing the symptoms and reducing further complications.
More information on each kind of disease and its causes, symptoms, risk factors and tests and diagnosis are available from the links on the left.