Do you know the signs and symptoms of liver disease?

Do you know the signs and symptoms of liver disease?

Knowing the purpose of liver function is important when evaluating your overall health. The liver is one of the main organs supporting our bodies healthy functions.

It filters the blood coming from the digestive tract before releasing it to other parts of the body. The liver works in conjunction with the other main organs to digest, absorb, and process food. If the liver begins to lose its function, it is critical to seek medical attention to determine treatment options.

Dr. Ajay Sahajpal, medical director of the Abdominal Transplant and Hepatobiliary Program at Advocate Aurora Health encourages patients and their family members to be on the lookout for the early signs of liver disease including nausea; pain or swelling in legs, ankles and abdomen; yellowish (jaundice) skin and eyes; chronic fatigue; and diarrhea.

“If you are experiencing symptoms, please reach out to your doctor immediately or call our program team if you do not have an established primary care doctor,” Dr. Sahajpal says. “We can help you determine the appropriate next steps.”

Upon confirmation of the stage of a patient’s liver disease, a multi-disciplinary treatment plan will be prepared. The care options depend on the severity of the illness and a patient will be given information and recommendations to either heal the liver, minimize the risk of liver failure, or prepare for the life-saving measure of liver transplant.

“If a transplant is needed, our team of experts would remove the diseased liver and replace it with a healthy liver from a donor,” said Dr. Sahajpal. “Our team is honored to serve our patients and they both amaze me every day. I am proud of my team’s focus on quality patient care and all the lives we have touched over the years.”

The Aurora liver transplant program started in 1998 and is preparing for an upcoming milestone of its 500th liver transplant in early 2021. To learn more or to contact Advocate Aurora’s Abdominal Transplant and Hepatobiliary program team, please call 1-888-863-5502.

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2 Comments

  1. Marcella A Mathis April 19, 2021 at 9:06 am · Reply

    I have a question, not a comment. How do you check to see if you have liver disease? Is it through a blood test? If so, are blood tests 100% reliable? My son has some of these symptoms but his blood work came back good.

    • Michelle Schuerman April 26, 2021 at 6:00 pm · Reply

      Hello Marcella! Great question. Here is the response from our clinical team: Blood work gives us a lot of information regarding your liver, however there are other tests that can be done to ensure there is no liver disease. If you have symptoms concerning for possible liver disease, the first step is to check blood work to assess liver function and assess for liver inflammation which can indicate liver disease. We can also order liver imaging like an ultrasound or CT scan to check the liver appearance and rule out liver diseases such as fatty liver or cirrhosis. The combination of a clinical evaluation by a provider, blood work, and imaging studies will give a good assessment of the liver and help us diagnosis liver disease. Ultimately, you should discuss with your provider regarding what testing should be done.

About the Author

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Michelle Schuerman

Michelle is a 20-year veteran in the health and human services industry. Throughout her career, she has helped families navigate community and educational resources, supported children in foster care to successfully transition to adulthood, and advocated alongside survivors of sexual abuse and domestic violence. Michelle donated her kidney to her best friend’s father in 2014 and ever since has been an avid supporter of organ donation. Michelle enjoys spending time with her family and friends at the beach, pool and live concerts.