Liver Diseases

skeleton and liver

We Help Colorado Patients with Their Liver Diseases

Take Advantage of Our Unrivaled Liver Disease Treatments

Your liver is a vital organ that handles multiple functions, such as metabolism, energy storage, and waste filtering. Liver disease is a blanket term for any condition affecting your liver’s ability to function correctly. The team at the Rocky Mountain Gastroenterology Association strives to provide all patients throughout Colorado with safe, effective, and accurate diagnoses and treatments, including liver disease. Our clinical team is trained to handle all aspects of patient care to guarantee that all your medical needs are met. This has made us the leading provider for patients with digestive complications. Contact our office to take advantage of our liver disease treatments and to experience the Rocky Mountain Gastroenterology approach to healthcare for yourself.

What is Liver Disease?

The liver is the body’s second largest organ and is located just under your ribcage on the right side and is approximately the size of a football. Your liver separates nutrients and waste as they move throughout your digestive system. Liver disease is a medical term referring to several afflictions that damage your liver. If left untreated, liver disease can cause cirrhosis, which is scarring of the liver. Cirrhosis can cause your liver to no longer function as intended and even lead to liver cancer. Here are some common liver diseases that we routinely treat:

  • Hepatitis A, B, and C – Hepatitis is liver inflammation. This illness can cause liver damage, making it difficult for your liver to filter waste correctly. Most forms of hepatitis are contagious, but there are ways to reduce your likelihood of contracting the virus.
  • Fatty Liver Disease – If fat builds up around the liver, it can lead to fatty liver disease. There are two distinct types of fatty liver disease: alcoholic fatty liver and nonalcoholic fatty liver.
  • Cirrhosis – This refers to the scarring resulting from other liver disease forms. It can be caused by alcohol, cystic fibrosis, and even syphilis.

Is Liver Disease Common?

According to a recent study, approximately 1-in-10 Americans have some form or type of liver disease. Around 5.5 million patients suffer from chronic liver disease or cirrhosis throughout the United States. Due to the rising rates of obesity, certain liver diseases are becoming more common. An estimated 20% to 30% of adults have excess fat in their liver, leading to non-alcoholic fatty liver disease. Untreated risk factors such as heavy alcohol use, obesity, and diabetes are slowly increasing how common liver disease is.

Different Causes for Liver Disease

What causes liver disease depends on the liver disease in question. There are a variety of different factors that can cause liver disease. Certain diseases result from a viral infection, liver inflammation, or even consuming too much alcohol. Here is an overview of some of the different causes of liver disease:

  • Viral Infections – Viruses like Hepatitis A, B, and C are all considered liver diseases.
  • Complications with Your Immune System – Your immune system is designed to help fight off bacteria and viruses, but certain patients’ immune systems will attack specific body parts like the liver. Three more common are autoimmune hepatitis, primary biliary cholangitis, and primary sclerosing cholangitis.
  • Inherited Disease – Unfortunately, some patients develop liver disease because of a genetic defect or condition. It’s important to undergo routine screenings if you have a family history of liver disease and cancer.
  • Alcohol Abuse – Frequent alcohol abuse can lead to liver cirrhosis. This puts you at greater risk for severe diseases or even liver cancer.
  • Drug Overdose – Consuming too much acetaminophen can lead to liver damage. It’s essential to follow the recommended dosing instructions on the label. If you have any concerns, contact your primary care physician.

Explore These Symptoms of Liver Disease

Liver disease symptoms vary, depending on the type and underlying cause. It’s possible that a patient has liver disease and has no presenting signs. There are common and noticeable symptoms, such as jaundice, for other liver diseases. Rocky Mountain Gastroenterology has put together a list of some of the more common signs that indicate possible severe liver disease:

  • Jaundice
  • Pale, Bloody, or Black Stools
  • Enlarged Stomach
  • Encephalopathy – A brain issue that changes mood, sleep, and cognition.
  • Abdominal Pain
  • Bruising Easily
  • Fatigue
  • Nausea or Vomiting

How We Diagnose Liver Disease

When you visit one of the clinics for help with liver disease, finding the cause and extent of liver damage is vital in guiding treatment. Your medical team will begin with a review of your health history and ask questions about your family history and if there is a history of liver disease. We’ll also perform a physical examination to see if any area is tender or swollen, which can help identify which liver disease is causing you issues. Here is an overview of other diagnostic tests we may perform to help determine which liver disease you have:

  • Blood Tests – Your blood test will measure the levels of liver enzymes in your blood. This gives our physician an indication if liver disease is the cause of your symptoms. Other tests include a blood-clotting test. If abnormal levels are found, it may indicate issues with your liver’s ability to function normally.
  • Imaging Tests – These include ultrasound, MRI, or CT scans. Our medical staff uses these tests’ images to look for signs of liver damage, scarring, or tumors. If any scarring is noted, we can perform a fibroscan to determine the severity of the scarring and fat in the liver.
  • Liver Biopsy – A liver biopsy is the most accurate way to check for liver cancer. A small liver sample is taken and analyzed during this procedure to find signs of liver disease.

Take Advantage of Our Liver Disease Treatments

Most liver diseases are chronic, which means they’ll last for years and may never go away. Thanks to advancements in medicine, even chronic liver diseases can be managed. Depending on your specific liver disease, we may recommend treatments as simple as dietary changes. When diagnosed with liver disease, your health care team will create a personalized treatment plan that may include the following liver disease treatments:

  • Medications – Some types of liver diseases can be treated with medication. You may be prescribed medication to treat viral infections like hepatitis or genetic disorders like Wilson disease. Steroids can also help lower your liver’s inflammation, which can be used in junction with blood pressure medication.
  • Lifestyle Changes – These changes can include eating a healthy and balanced diet to help manage your liver disease. Liver diseases such as fatty liver disease can be treated by limiting alcohol and reducing fat and calories while increasing your fiber intake. Most alcohol-related diseases can be improved with abstinence from alcohol. One of the simplest, most effective lifestyle changes you can make is drinking more water.
  • Liver Transplant – This is a last-resort treatment for liver disease. A liver transplant may be the best treatment option when the disease has progressed into liver failure. We’ll work hard to ensure it doesn’t come to this point.

How Can I Prevent Liver Disease?

Avoiding liver disease is possible if you take specific steps and change your lifestyle. During your consultation, our team will note if you are at risk for liver disease and will work side by side with you to deliver comprehensive preventive services. We aim to provide preventative treatment based on your unique conditions and risks for liver disease. Liver disease prevention includes the following:

  • Adopting a Healthy Lifestyle – Living a healthier lifestyle will help your liver work as efficiently as possible while lowering your overall risk of liver disease. The lifestyle changes we may recommend include maintaining a healthy weight, eating a balanced diet, exercising regularly, and reducing alcohol consumption.
  • Liver Disease Screenings – Scheduling routine screenings are vital to preventing liver disease. This allows your physician to perform routine blood panel tests and liver disease tests. We’ll provide updates regarding your likelihood of getting the liver disease during these tests.
  • Optimizing Care for Your Conditions – Liver disease can be a side effect of other medical conditions you may have. You must follow care instructions and follow up with your primary care physician or specialists. This will help you optimize your care and significantly reduce your risk of chronic liver disease.

Schedule Your Liver Disease Screening Today

Most liver diseases are easily treatable and manageable when caught early. However, failure to catch or schedule routine liver disease screenings may lead to permanent damage or liver cancer. One of the most common results of untreated liver disease is cirrhosis, which can cause liver failure resulting in a liver transplant. The Rocky Mountain Gastroenterology team is dedicated to helping our patients by providing personalized treatment plans that cater to your specific needs. Contact us to schedule your liver disease screening and to experience our liver disease services. We look forward to helping you get your life back.

Go back