Understanding Liver Disease In Women

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Several diseases vary per gender, Liver disease is one of these conditions. 

Obesity, alcohol-related liver disease, and fatty liver disease cases continue to rise. They are the leading causes of cirrhosis in men and women in South Africa. Still, it may be a surprise to hear that women have a higher chance of liver cirrhosis than men. Even when they do not drink or drink less.

Murray Hewlett, Affinity Health CEO, says the chances of developing cirrhosis increase with a woman’s age. Hewlett explains, “That is due to higher prevalence of liver illnesses in women. Also, particular medication and drug-related difficulties are present in women.” 

What is Liver Disease?

The liver plays an essential part in the following biological processes:

  • Protein synthesis.
  • Blood clotting.
  • Cholesterol.
  • Glucose (sugar).
  • Iron metabolism.

The liver is the only organ that can repair damaged cells. But if you lose enough cells, the liver may no longer be able to supply the body’s demands.

Several diseases and conditions can affect the liver, such as:
  • Drugs
  • Alcohol abuse
  • Hepatitis A, B, C, D, and E
  • Infectious mononucleosis (Epstein Barr virus)
  • Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NASH)
  • Iron overload (hemochromatosis)
Among the symptoms of liver disease are:
  • Weakness 
  • Persistent fatigue
  • Weight reduction
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Jaundice
  • Bloody stool
  • Stomach discomfort
  • A decline in libido
Long-term Consequences of Liver Disease

Liver disease can have many life-threatening consequences if left untreated, including:

  • Swollen blood veins in the oesophagus or stomach. 
  • Infection of the abdominal cavity’s fluid (spontaneous bacterial peritonitis).
  • Loss of liver cells and obstruction of blood flow through the liver
  • Poisons induce brain dysfunction that the liver cannot change (hepatic encephalopathy).
  • Primary liver cancer. 
  • Brittle bones.

Treatment of the liver disease depends on its underlying cause. Acute liver failure may or may not be reversible. That means that there may be a treatable reason. The liver may recover and restore normal functioning on occasion.

But due to the diversity of liver disorders, the symptoms tend to vary per disease. That is until advanced liver failure develops. 

When to See a Doctor

Often, the onset of liver disease is a gradual process. No one sign prompts an individual to seek medical attention. Unexplained fatigue, weakness, and weight loss cause a visit to the doctor. 

Jaundice or yellow skin is never normal. These symptoms call for a medical professional’s inspection. Additionally, persistent fever, vomiting, and stomach discomfort should warrant a short medical assessment.