Here are the stages of progressive liver disease, if only it was a disease with early warning signs, sadly we only get signals that something is going wrong as we experience symptoms of the liver not functioning correct.
A liver function test is a great idea at 3 or 6 monthly intervals. This is basically a blood test and the Dr can analyse the results and work out what % of liver function is left.
- The liver functions normally, processing nutrients, detoxifying harmful substances, producing bile, and regulating metabolism.
- Minimal to no signs of liver disease or dysfunction.
Fatty Liver Disease (Steatosis):
- Accumulation of excess fat in liver cells.
- Often asymptomatic but can lead to fatigue, abdominal discomfort, and mild liver enzyme elevation.
- Inflammation of the liver, typically caused by viral infections (e.g., hepatitis B, hepatitis C).
- Symptoms may include fatigue, jaundice, abdominal pain, and flu-like symptoms.
- Prolonged inflammation triggers the accumulation of scar tissue (fibrosis) in the liver.
- Liver still functions, but some damage is present.
- Advanced scarring and damage to liver tissue, replacing healthy tissue.
- Liver function is compromised, impacting its ability to process nutrients, produce proteins, and detoxify the blood.
- Symptoms include fatigue, weakness, fluid retention, easy bruising, jaundice, confusion, and bleeding.
- Portal hypertension (increased pressure in the portal vein) can lead to complications like ascites, varices, and hepatic encephalopathy.
Decompensated Cirrhosis: (This is where I am right now and decided to take action)
- Severe cirrhosis with significant loss of liver function.
- Symptoms worsen, and complications become more pronounced.
- Ascites, jaundice, hepatic encephalopathy, and bleeding tendencies are common.
- Increased risk of infections due to compromised immune function.
End-Stage Liver Cirrhosis:
- Liver function is severely impaired, and complications are severe and life-threatening.
- Liver is unable to regenerate healthy tissue, leading to organ failure.
- Development of hepatocellular carcinoma (liver cancer) is a significant risk.
- Individuals may require a liver transplant to survive.
It’s important to note that each person’s experience with liver disease can vary, and not everyone will progress through these stages in the same way. Early diagnosis, appropriate medical management, lifestyle changes, and following a healthcare provider’s recommendations can have a significant impact on disease progression and overall quality of life.