The liver, which happens to be the largest and heaviest internal organ, is primarily responsible for filtering toxins from the blood. It is also important to the digestive system. In case you have a liver problem, your primary care doctor may refer the case to a hepatologist or liver specialist. In this post, we will talk of the signs, symptoms and other aspects along with details as when you should seek an appointment.
Who is a liver specialist?
A liver specialist, also known as hepatologist, is a doctor who specializes in treating problems concerning the liver, gallbladder, and bile ducts. The role of a hepatologist shouldn’t be confused with that of haematologist, who specialize in blood. Hepatology is known to be a specialty branch of gastroenterology.
When to see a doctor?
There are a few tell-a-tale signs of liver problems that shouldn’t be ignored. First and foremost, check if you have abdominal pain or discomfort, especially on the right side below your chest. That’s where your liver is located. Next, check the signs of jaundice, which includes yellow skin and eyes. You may also pass extremely dark urine. In some cases, digestive disorders can also be an indicator of liver damage, especially if the symptoms are chronic and severe.
What are the likely causes or conditions?
Your doctor will ideally recommend diagnostic tests and examinations to find the possible causes. The liver can get affected by viruses, which can lead to conditions like Hepatitis A, Hepatitis B and Hepatitis C. If there is damage or scarring of the liver, which can lead to a condition called Cirrhosis, which can be initiated or triggered by alcohol abuse. If not checked, this can eventually lead to liver failure, which can be fatal. Hepatitis infections are treatable, but early detection is important. Other conditions that affect the liver include damage to the pancreas, liver cancer, genetic disorders, metabolic liver disease, gallstones, and damage to the biliary tract.
If there are any signs of liver damage or you have other problems that are affecting the liver, your doctor will start line of treatment. Hepatologists only rely non-invasive treatments and not surgeries. You may also require a liver specialist for post-operative care after a liver transplant or other surgeries that affect the organ. If you need to know more on liver problems, please check online, and yes, every person with risk factors for liver cancer should get screened once in ten years.